In the lead up to the Perth USAsia Centre's The Zone Above: The Indo-Pacific Era in Space conference on 8 October 2018, the Perth USAsia Centre interviewed Dr Megan Clark AC, the Head of the recently established Australian Space Agency.
What are the objectives of the Australian Space Agency over the next few years?
The Australian Space Agency has an exciting and ambitious agenda. The Agency’s overarching purpose is to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry that lifts the broader economy, inspires and improves the lives of Australians – underpinned by strong international and national engagement.
The Agency’s overarching purpose is to transform and grow a globally respected Australian space industry that lifts the broader economy, inspires and improves the lives of Australians – underpinned by strong international and national engagement.
Domestically, the Agency will be building on Australia’s comparative strengths to develop a space industry that helps every sector of the economy prosper, helps Australian business enter global markets and creates new jobs. Internationally, the Agency will provide “one voice and one door” for Australia to work with our international counterparts. This includes the $15 million International Space Investment initiative to support Australian participation in international missions. We will also connect with Australians to inspire our next generation and highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The Agency also has some immediate operational priorities to get established quickly, but we are driven by working with the space industry to help it grow.
Importantly we will be one of the most industry focused space agency – being a partner and facilitator to support the growth of the industry.
Dr Megan Clark AC, Head of the Australian Space Agency, standing alongside Head's of international space agencies from around the world. Source: Twitter (@AusSpaceAgency).
What role do you believe Australia can play in space exploration in the future?
We are forging ahead with international partnerships, as this is a key way Australia can leverage opportunities around the globe. Initially we will focus on areas such as communications and ground stations, earth observations, space situational awareness, and positioning, navigation and timing. However we have great technologies that can support space explorations, areas such as remote asset management using robotics - some of our mining companies are already exploring these opportunities. We also have businesses developing new rocket propulsion technologies and we’ll look at other areas such as next generation communications, A.I. and quantum technologies.
It is truly an exciting time and we look forward to working with industry to identify areas where Australia can contribute to space exploration.
Do you believe the space industry will grow to create jobs for Australia?
We are witnessing a shift in the industry from billion dollar government programs to an industry comprising a healthy mix of big, medium and small businesses providing a vast array of technology and services. This will mean Australia is well placed to leverage the activities across the globe. We will be building on our strengths to develop a space industry that helps every sector of the economy grow, supports Australian business to enter global markets and create new jobs.
Australia already has a vibrant history, one that employs about 10,000 people and worth $3.9 billion in 2015-16. The Agency will help triple the size of the space industry to $12 billion by 2030. This would create up to 20,000 new, high-tech jobs.
How do you envisage the Australia Space Agency growing in the coming years?
I expect our Agency will continue to be a nimble organisation, actively engaging with industry and our international partners to support the purpose of our Agency.
The role of government as a partner and facilitator in space activities will continue to grow, particularly as we watch the rapid transformation of the space industry into one where companies small, medium and large thrive. Some achievements I expect from the Australian Space Agency are the signing of several MOUs with international partners that open the doors for our industry to grow, building on the 20.3 million people that have seen, heard or read about us, industry highlighting where they see opportunities to grow the sector, and the creation of the next generation of entrepreneurs inspired to contribute to our space industry. All of these achievements will move us closer to our goal to triple the size of the sector and create up to 20,000 more jobs.
Featured image courtesy of Twitter, @DeputyHdSpaceAu.