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Australia to fast-track space investment

The Australian government has announced a further $65 millions-worth of investment in Australian space technology, including a mission to put an Australian astronaut into space.

It will co-invest more than $32 million in the development of up to three new or existing spaceports or launch sites across Australia. The Australian Space Agency will also receive more than $32 million to procure and provide spaceflights and services for the Australian space sector.

This will help the sector gain an important ‘flight qualification’ – a common barrier to transitioning space technology from the laboratory to space.

The more than $32 million includes a $3.5 million national student space challenge that would see student payloads sent into orbit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding is part of the Government’s ongoing mission to expand Australia’s space sector, invest in cutting edge technologies and create new jobs.

“The journey to sending an Australian into space means serious investment in local jobs, local technologies and local businesses,” he said. “Any astronaut and any spacecraft has a team of thousands behind them, not to mention invaluable technology and research and carefully manufactured parts.

“That’s why, since 2018, we have invested more than $800 million as part of our mission to triple the size of the sector to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030.”

The Agency has also been tasked with international partners to put an Australian astronaut back into space.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said the investment was a major boost for South Australia’s space sector. The State has already created nearly 1600 space jobs, he said: “We are the home of the Space Discovery Centre, Mission Control, the Australian Space Agency, the Australian Space Park and more than 90 space-related companies are already based right here in SA.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said this latest investment would provide Australian industry with further opportunities to grow their capability and access global supply chains – and support more launches taking off on home soil. At present some five separate Australian launch sites are operational or under development: two of them, in South Australia at Whalers Way and Koonibba, have already been licensed to undertake launch activities while three more are under development in the Northern Territory and Queensland with the first launches planned this calendar year.

“This is about so much more than just the excitement or inspiration of launch,” Minister Price said. “By investing in the growth of the Australian space sector we’re investing in the future of all Australians.

“We’re doing that through investments via the Australian Space Agency and prioritising the space sector through our Modern Manufacturing Strategy and Australia’s Economic Accelerator.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the Fast-Tracking Access to Space package would help address gaps in the local sector.

“By supporting Australian businesses and researchers to get their products into space more quickly, we are helping them to demonstrate their capabilities to the world, which in turn will create new opportunities that see them grow,” Mr Palermo said.

“This co-investment in the development of spaceports makes Australia’s intentions clear – we want to become a launch nation of choice to attract further private sector investment.

“We are already a desirable launch location thanks to a range of factors, including our unique geographic perspective and political stability – this investment will cement that reputation.”

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