The Australian Space Agency (ASA) and Airbus Defence and Space have signed a statement of intent that commits the European satellite manufacturer to enhancing the capability and competitiveness of the Australian space and satellite industrial sector.
This is the first statement of intent signed between the ASA and an industry partner: it includes Airbus’ support for space discovery, technology development and connectivity, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Australia.
“Airbus aims to support projects and partnerships that contribute to growth and jobs in Australia, with a special focus on innovation and skills,” said Pierre Jaffre, president of Asia-Pacific Airbus. “We look forward to working with the Australian Space Agency, as well as the country’s academia, SMEs and start-ups, to develop Australia’s space sovereign capability. This includes nurturing and developing areas of strategic priority and technologies identified by an expert reference group panel.”
In its publicity statement about the signing, Airbus says that it believes it shares with the Australian Space Agency an interest in enhancing the competitiveness and capability of the Australian space industry, including the growing importance of commercialisation at every point along the space value-added chain, from research and development to high-tech manufacturing, transportation, satellite operations, and consumer services based on satellite signals and data.
Dr. Megan Clark AC, Head of the Australian Space Agency, said, “The Australian Space Agency is committed to a transparent and significant engagement with industry. Our purpose is to transform and grow the Australian space sector, and the broader use of space across the country’s economy, to inspire and deliver benefit to all Australians. We welcome Airbus’ choice of Australia for the world’s first operations of the Zephyr and Skynet 5 platforms. We also welcome Airbus’ efforts to actively support STEM education and training opportunities in Australia and internationally.”
Airbus Defence and Space has a major presence in Australia. In 2011, the Royal Australian Air Force became the launch operator of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) which it designates locally as the KC-30A. Airbus has also been supplying earth observation satellite imagery to the Australian market for over 25 years. In 2016, a brand new purpose built satellite ground station was established in Adelaide to land Airbus Defence and Space’s Skynet secure military satellite communications. In June 2018, Airbus selected Wyndham airfield in Western Australia as the first flight base for its pioneering Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft.