Australia wants a slice of the booming private space industry, and it's launching an agency to capitalise on it. The Australian Government announced on Monday at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide that it would commit to launching a space agency, following a review of the country's space capability and years of calls to establish one. "The case for establishing an Australian space agency is compelling. And so, I am pleased today to announce that the Australian Government will be establishing a national space agency," South Australian senator Simon Birmingham said. Today I'm pleased to announce on behalf of the Turnbull Government that Australia will have a space agency #IAC2017 pic.twitter.com/2pd9HoVi8f
A new innovation institute, InSpace, has launched out of the Australian National University (ANU), charged with combining technology, science, and law research to advance Australia's space industry. InSpace, according to ANU Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt, will look to expand the opportunities for Australia to expand its commercial and scientific interests in the space industry. "The new institute will be the front door to space activities and capabilities across the university, including technology R&D, science missions, space test facilities, commercial space law, and business and finance initiatives relating to space," Schmidt said. "ANU has been Australia's leading astronomy institute for decades, and we're now looking to combine that scientific expertise with the work we're doing in physics, computing, quantum mechanics, and law." It is expected the new initiative, led by Professor Anna Moore from ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, will serve as a bridge between academia and industry, and is designed to drive co-investment between industry and government partners in space-related projects.
While there's plenty of talk and excitement over Australia's forthcoming space agency, there are still plenty of unanswered questions over the details. SEE ALSO: Elon Musk will give a big SpaceX talk about Mars this week. Fortunately, someone out there has come up with the best possible name for the agency, which we sorely, hopefully, wish was true: A.R.S.E., or Australian Research and Space Exploration. A.R.S.E. has been making some waves on the internet recently, with its own Facebook and Instagram pages, but again, it's merely an amusing riff on the upcoming space agency and not what it'll be actually called. "Australian Research & Space Exploration is an independent campaign designed to promote the space program and all related efforts in Australia.
A "strong sovereign capability in space" would make Australia a stronger partner in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance with the US, the UK, Canada, and New Zealand, according to Colonel (Ret'd) Pamela Melroy, a former US Air Force test pilot and NASA Space Shuttle commander. "Australia needs to embrace this, because you're going to have a much more muscular role in the Five Eyes as a result," Melroy told the conference "Building Australia's Strategy for Space", which was organised by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in Canberra last week. One example is space surveillance, which involves the detection, tracking, cataloging, and identification of objects in space. With new systems soon to come online, such as Space Fence, the ground-based Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) in Western Australia, and commercial systems, Melroy says Australia should not simply be passing on their raw data to the US. "Australia can and should develop a domestic capability to generate and provide processed information -- not data, information -- that supports its own defence force in real time, but is also of much greater value to our Five Eyes partners," she said.