CANBERRA, Australia – Australia has announced it will create its own space agency to increase its share of the $330 billion space economy. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday the agency would be part of Australia's development of an innovation and science economy. But the government has provided few specifics. Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Michaelia Cash says the agency's charter would be developed by the end of March. The opposition Labor Party says such an agency is needed to increase Australia's share of a global space economy from less than 1 percent of what the government estimates is worth $330 billion.
Australia is finally getting its own space agency. After months of talks, the federal government has decided it's time the land down under is on par with other developed nations -- including its neighbour New Zealand -- and has put $50 million aside to launch the program. The government is expected to unveil its funding proposal at the federal budget on May 8, and it is likely former CSIRO boss Megan Clark will be announced as head of the agency for its first year. Of course, while $50 million is not an insignificant sum, launching a space agency is pretty expensive so the private sector will be expected to contribute the majority of funding -- a doable task considering the economic boost the program is likely to deliver. Speaking to CNET, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research at the University of NSW Andrew Dempster said he was confident that "they should be able to do something useful with the money", and suggested the program could facilitate the development of startups, too.
AUSTRALIA is launching its space agency this week in an effort to capture a share of the booming space market. The Australian government has committed A$26 million ($19 million) over four years to set up its operations and a further A$15 million ($11 million) over three years to invest in research and development. The funding is fairly small – NASA has an annual budget of $20 billion and the European Space Agency's is $7 billion – meaning that missions to Mars are off …
Australia is very much a participant in the space industry with about 11,500 people working in the field. However, it has never had its own space agency -- and that may put it at a disadvantage next to the US, Canada and other countries that have concerted space strategies. The government hopes to fix that. It just unveiled plans to create Australia's first national space agency. Michaelia Cash argues that it's necessary to keep pace with a space industry that's "growing rapidly."