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#SpaceWatchGL Op’Ed: Australian Space Agency 1 Year On: A Message From Head, Dr. Megan Clark, AC

Dr. Megan Clark. Photograph courtesy of CSIRO.

By Dr. Megan Clark, AC

Very few things inspire quite like space, and this has been exemplified during the first year of the Australian Space Agency.

We are incredibly grateful for the support from researchers, industry and the wider Australian community. In the last year, Australians have engaged with media articles about the Australian Space Agency over 100 million times, and this reach continues to broaden. Industry partners have signed Statements of Strategic Intent to highlight opportunities for investment, and to show their commitment to growing our space industry. Researchers around the country have been working together and engaging with the endeavour. It is wonderful to see the $245 million SmartSat CRC drawing a collective of nearly 100 partners and international collaborators – the largest space industry contingent in Australian history.

We’re pleased to be playing our part in this nation-wide effort. We have a great team who have worked hard over our first 12-months to establish a space agency that Australians can be proud of.

Australians have told us they love our brand, which was released in December 2018 to incredibly positive feedback. The logo is made up of eight Aboriginal constellations and star maps, with each cluster capturing our heritage and the spirit of the Agency. It reminds us that we are here to serve our nation, honour our past and build the future.

In April, Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 was released, setting a national strategic pathway for Australia’s civil space sector. This strategy lays out seven civil space priorities for Australia over the next ten years: Position, navigation and timing; Earth observation; Communications technologies and services; Space situational awareness and debris monitoring; Leapfrog R&D; Robotics and automation on Earth and in space; and Access to space.

All states and territories have engaged to understand Australia’s space capabilities, and to put forward strategies to transform and grow our industry. Our team continues to work closely with state and territory governments and industry as we further Australia’s objectives in space.

Opening doors internationally for our researchers and industry is a key part of the Agency’s strategy. The Agency has signed agreements with the Canadian, French, UK and United Arab Emirates space agencies to explore where our nations can work together, and to further our shared ambition. Our conversations with NASA and the European Space Agency are progressing to explore more opportunities for collaboration.

Australia’s space legislation has been updated, including the passage of the Space (Launches and Returns) Amendment Act 2018, and consultation with the sector on the underlying rules. Our focus is on encouraging entrepreneurship while ensuring our activities are safe, both here and in space, and in between.

Finally, in support of our strategy, the Agency is developing two new programs – the International Space Investment initiative, and the Space Infrastructure Fund. These are important programs that will serve to transform and grow Australia’s space industry into the future.

As we look forward, we will continue to highlight the transformation underway in the space sector and how this opens up opportunities for Australia. This transformation means companies small, medium and large can create their own business, and be prosperous in many exciting areas across the space economy. It means our research and development efforts can take Australia to the frontline of innovation in space. We look forward to communicating with the community to show the exciting things happening in Australia and in space. This includes how space will impact on all our lives, and how it will be an important enabler for many other industries – whether to support agriculture, emergency management, or new technologies like autonomous vehicles.

Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard for Australia to have its own Agency, and for your support over this past year. I can assure all Australians that our team is working very hard to transform and grow the Australian space industry, and to build a space agency of which Australia can be proud. We’re looking forward to working with the sector on the 10-year plan to grow and transform Australia’s space industry and to achieve our mission to triple the size of the space sector to $12 billion and create another 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Dr Megan Clark AC

Head, Australian Space Agency

This essay was first published on 1 July 2019 on the Australian Space Agency website, and can be read here.


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