3 mins read 13 Jul 2020

Australia & Japan working towards Agreement

The Australian and Japanese Governments have signed a Memorandum of Cooperation, further strengthening Australia’s collaborative opportunities in the region.

Credit: Australian Space Agency/Twitter.

The Australian Space Agency has signed a new Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, JAXA, with the two countries committing to build relationships and open opportunities in advancing the regional space sector.

The MoC was acknowledged by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe at the Australia-Japan Virtual Leaders Meeting on Thursday last week – with the hope that the agreement will identify and encourage new areas of collaboration in education, outreach, applications, and space technologies.

Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology Karen Andrews said the signing would enable exciting opportunities to increase space collaboration across the two nations and support economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This significant international partnership will open the door for local innovators and help in Australia’s mission of growing our connected, respected, and globally competitive space industry,” Minister Andrews said.

“This signing builds on already strong cooperation in space between Australia and Japan over more than 20 years, including the trials of the Japanese Automatic Landing Flight Experiment at Woomera in 1996, the launch of Australia’s FedSat in 2002 and the return of Hayabusa1 in 2010.

“Further leveraging connections with countries such as Japan will be vital to growing our space industry, which will be one of the key industries that drives Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.”

Australia’s Space Agency and industry have previously worked closely with JAXA on a range of activities, such as the Hayabusa-1 mission – that saw an asteroid sample return to Earth, landing in the Australian outback. The next stage of that mission – the Hayabusa 2, which is currently on a trajectory back to Earth after visiting the asteroid Ryugu – will also land in Australia, with the two agencies working closely on entry, descent, and landing for the precious cargo.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Dr. Megan Clark AC said the Agency and JAXA will identify new areas of cooperation in space technology, applications, education, and outreach.

“JAXA’s experience in space missions and deep expertise, space communication, precise positioning, robotics, and education make them an outstanding strategic partner for Australia,” Dr. Clark said. 

“We have already seen the benefits of international collaboration through opportunities like Kibo-ABC, enabling industry, researchers and students to be involved in innovative experiments in the unique microgravity environment of the International Space Station, including robot programming challenges and growing seeds in space.”