On Monday at the 68th International Astronomical Congress in Adelaide, Australian Federal Government officials announced that are committing to developing a national space agency. The move comes amid mounting pressure from industry experts who believe the country is too dependent on foreign launch capabilities.
“We are dependent on other countries who can choose their own national interest over and above ours,” Kim Carr, Opposition science, and industry spokesperson explained in an interview with ABC. “We certainly need to be able to protect our domestic interests, we need to build our industry capability and we need to secure the jobs of the future for Australia.”
Of the 35 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australia is one of only two (the other being Iceland) that do not currently have a national space agency. In addition to offering launch capabilities to the countries satellite services, an Australian space agency will allow the country to begin competing for a share of the AU$420 billion global industry.
“The global space industry is growing rapidly and it’s crucial that Australia is part of this growth,” explained Michaelia Cash, Australia’s Minister of Industry, Innovation, and Science. “A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry.”
The county’s commercial space industry is currently valued at around AU$4 billion offering employment for 11,500 Australians. This without any real launch capabilities reflects a country and a populace primed for their own space programme.
Image Credit: NASA