4 mins read 04 Mar 2021

Space Bridge brings Australian and UK Space Agencies closer

In 2018 a memorandum of understanding paved the way for the Space Bridge agreement signed on the 23rd Feb this year. The framework will encourage an information exchange focusing on emerging trends and issues as well as sharing best practice. 

Science, Technology and Investment minister Karen Andrews with Australia Space Agency Head, Enrico Palermo took part in the holistic signing virtually with representatives from the UK including Science Minister Amanda Solloway. Credit - Australian Government

With the ongoing and rapid growth of the Australian and global space sector it is no surprise that the UK and Australia want to support each other to grow their own space industries. Originally the agreement was confirmed in 2018, when the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding, it was solidified in 2019 with a statement of intent. Feb 2021 saw the final agreement, called Space Bridge, come into being. 

The Space Bridge Agreement is a framework focusing on a number of areas key to the growth of both nations' space industry. These include;

  • Enhanced Space Policy Coordination

  • Industry Collaboration

  • Improved trade flows

  • Improved research and development partnerships

  • The joint development of landing pads.

“In addition to Australia’s strong manufacturing capabilities, our space priorities range from communications, to Earth observation, as well as robotics and automation – all of which can offer support to the UK’s space ambitions,” said, Science, Technology and Investment Minister Karen Andrews.

With both countries looking to promote their relative space industries, the collaboration will assist them to cement their place in the global space industry. The agreement will strengthen a relationship going back to the 60’s & 70’s where British rockets were tested and launched from Woomera, SA.

New Opportunities for Trade and Investment

UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway holds up the signed Space Bridge Agreement. Credit - UK Government.

The new head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, who took over in Jan this year, said that the Space Bridge will help propel the Australian civil space industry into its next phase of growth, opening doors to build local capability, as well as significantly boost our collaboration with the UK Space Agency. 

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan extended on that suggesting that this world first agreement would reduce barriers to cooperation, address market-entry barriers and help space programs get off the ground faster, helping both countries to develop pioneering space programs and technology. 

Both the UK and Australia recognise the opportunity to grow both their space industries and their technological advancement, with the UK minister for science Amanda Solloway saying that the bond will allow our most innovative space businesses and universities to collaborate and share best practice more effectively than ever. I’m excited to see how this partnership will unlock new space jobs in both countries while driving forward new ideas that could enrich all of our lives.

"How Good Is Space!"

Australian Space Agency Head, Enrico Palermo and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews met earlier this year, to discuss their aim for the space sector and to reach our goal to create an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.

“This agreement will unleash innovation, promote knowledge exchange and build relationships that will help both the UK and Australia maximise the vast economic and scientific potential that the space sector offers. It will help create better opportunities and greater security for people in both nations.” - UK Space Agency Chief Executive Officer, Dr Graham Turnock.

Both the UK and Australia have taken this announcement as an opportunity to show their commitment to the space industry in their respective countries. The UK will look to attract more investment through a series of measures also recently announced including setting up a new virtual Space Sector Export Academy helping to provide training to small and medium sized space businesses and identifying opportunities to attract direct foreign investment into emerging sectors. 

Minister Andrews said in parliament “How good is space?” going on to say that “It has enormous benefits for us in our everyday lives” and “we as a government understand how important space is, not just to our everyday lives, not just because of the inspiration it gives to our young people to study science and maths at school, but what it can do to grow our economy”. 

This follows the release of the  $1.3 billion roadmap modern manufacturing roadmap, where space is one of the six priority areas. The space priority area will focus on products that go into space, space components and associated products and infrastructure, such as launch facilities and ground stations.