Australia needs a compelling vision to drive its space ambitions


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Securing Australia’s Space Industry, an event co-convened by Lockheed Martin Australia and the Space Industry Association of Australia, to be held at the National Press Club on Wednesday, 9 November 2016.

Australia has a unique opportunity to build a globally competitive, sustainable space industry but it needs a ‘big and compelling’ space vision, with a five- to ten-year stretch goal to make it a reality.

“It may have been unthinkable just a few years ago to say it’s possible for Australia to have a strong space industry,” said UNSW Canberra Rector, Professor Michael Frater.

“But the advent of small satellites, the decreasing cost of space access, and growing value-added service being provided by data owners means we have a unique opportunity to develop an industry both in space and on the ground.

“The window of opportunity is likely to be short, however, so ‘doing nothing’ is not an option. Many countries with smaller economies than Australia’s now have active space programs, and we risk missing the opportunity and simply watching while they benefit from it."

Australia’s space future lies in being actively involved throughout the value chain of space and spatial data, says Professor Frater.

“We should drive innovation and entrepreneurship in space and spatial data throughout the economy—in industry, universities and research organisations.

“We should build national and international partnerships, collaborations and networks to accelerate development cycles and augment the capabilities of the services provided by our space systems.”

Australia’s stretch goal could be to exploit our track record in clever innovation and specific technologies such as autonomous systems.

“One example is to fly a formation of networked small spacecraft as a capability demonstrator for an application that cannot be achieved with a single spacecraft,” he said.

“Such an ambitious project would provide a focus for industry, government and universities to grow a strong space industry in Australia and become an important part of our economy.”

Professor Frater will make his comments in a keynote address to Securing Australia’s Space Industry, an event co-convened by Lockheed Martin Australia and the Space Industry Association of Australia on Wednesday 9 November.

UNSW Canberra is investing $10 million in building a domestic space program known as UNSW Canberra Space, with the goal of doing research in space, “moving beyond the paradigm of processing other peoples’ data on the ground”.

“UNSW Canberra Space, under the leadership of Professor Russell Boyce, has reversed the brain drain, built a space mission team, and now has five confirmed space missions with three more currently undergoing feasibility studies with our partners.

“What we have already achieved at UNSW Canberra shows that it can be done, that it can be done in Australia, and it can be done by Australians,” said Professor Frater.

UNSW Canberra’s Master of Space Engineering and Master of Space Operations degrees offer unique up-skilling for Defence and non-Defence professionals working in the space sector and related industries.

“UNSW Canberra is playing a key role in transforming space technology and helping Australia to become an important space-faring nation,” he said.

For further information, contact:

Nicholas Ellis
Communications Coordinator
UNSW Canberra
0423 800 109