6 mins read 08 Dec 2021

The roadmap to the future of the Australian space sector

A report has been released by the Australian Government with 38 recommendations and a detailed roadmap for the future of the Australian space sector.

Australia from space. Credit: DSCOVR.

The Australian Government has just released a roadmap to develop Australia’s Space industry. The report focuses on how the Australian Government can support the Australian space sector while preserving and protecting the space environment.

The report made 38 recommendations that will allow Australia opportunities in space infrastructure and services. The Australian government, working through the Australian Space Agency, aims to grow the space sector by $12 billion, creating an additional 20,000 jobs. The recommendations outlined in this report support this growth, and provide targeted areas within the space sector to focus on. Deputy  Committee Chair The Hon. Sharon Bird MP highlighted the rapidly evolving nature of the space industry and the difficulty for the Committee in keeping pace with space developments throughout  2021.  

“The significance of Space 2.0 is that it will create the jobs of the future as well as improving our everyday lives. Australia needs to position itself to capitalise on these opportunities” said Committee Chair Pat Conaghan MP.

On November 11th 2020 the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry,  Innovation, Science and Resources adopted an inquiry referred by the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP asking the Committee to inquire into and report on developing Australia's space industry. 

Since the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018, there has been a renewed focus on the space sector in Australia. This inquiry was undertaken by the Committee during the Covid-19 pandemic, which highlighted Australia’s vulnerability and reliance on other countries for global supply chains and space-related technologies and services. The recommendations of the Committee aim to rectify this.

“This stellar report will be the guiding light for the development of Australia’s most exciting industry in coming months and years.  We thank the committee and parliament for providing this comprehensive analysis and visionary architecture for growing Australia’s space industry in a successful and sustainable way,” said James Brown, CEO of the Space Industry Association of Australia.

“Securing appropriate funding and authority for the  Australian Space Agency and working on a national space strategy are now the top priorities for the government and opposition. We look forward to continuing industry’s part in that effort”. 

A number of recommendations provide a strategic outline that will also help boost the presence and growth of Australian space communities - well beyond the direct space industry sector. 

Increasing Visibility

Recommendation 7 of the report focuses on increasing the visibility of space and the space sector across government and parliament, as well as emphasising its relevance to Australians. This will see the incorporation of space as a specific focus of a joint or parliamentary committee, including the name of the committee. A research position within the Parliamentary Library that covers space-related issues is recommended to be created which will ensure research support is available to Members and Senators. It is also recommended that there are also positions within the public service to cover space-related issues across departments and agencies. These recommendations make space accessible across the Australian public service.  

Statutory Authority

Recommendation 8 of the report is to give consideration to establishing the Australia Space Agency as a statutory authority. A statutory authority is an Australian Government body that is established through legislation for a public purpose. This would also include separating its industry engagement and regulatory functions. By making the Australian Space Agency a statutory authority, more jobs would need to be created and more staff with industry experience would need to be engaged for their technical expertise. The budget and resourcing for the Australian Space Agency would have to be adjusted accordingly, to ensure the goals and objectives of the Agency are adequately met. Not only will this create more jobs in the Australian Space Agency, but will also ensure that the Agency and positions within are properly resourced and goals are budgeted for. 

Industry Engagement

Several of the recommendations revolve around engaging with and involving industry in the Australian space sector. A major goal is to ensure that the Australian space industry more broadly as well as Australian products relating to the space sector are competitive in the global market. It is also recommended that suitable regulatory changes are discussed further with the industry to best benefit growth and investment. The report also recommended ways to commercialise publicly funded research are developed. The Committee also recommends working with industry to identify opportunities for the civil space sector. Industry groups are also recommended to be invited to participate with other stakeholders, as well as Commonwealth and State governments, in a Ministerial Council on Space. This will allow for a shared vision of further development of Australia’s space sector and the direction it goes in.  

Future Generations

Several of the recommendations also focus on the next generation of the Australian space sector. It’s recommended that engagement is done with primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutes to engage people from a young age in the space sector. This will also ensure a continued pipeline of specialist and technical expertise. There is also a recommendation to increase diversity across Australia’s space sector. The aim of these recommendations is to make the space sector accessible and inclusive for everyone wanting to work in space-related industries in Australia. 

Inclusion of Non-STEM Industry

Recommendation 19 is to engage with broader industries, particularly non-STEM industries such as law, economics, finance, business, and advisory services. This will support and maintain the operation of the Australian space industry, as well as being able to provide a specialist service to the international market. This will allow much broader sectors to participate in the space industry. 

Space Environment

Recommendations 22 and 29 look to creating a cleaner space environment. The space environment is already very congested and so looking to the future Australia aims to examine the feasibility of more green tech in the space sector. There is also a responsibility to effectively manage the space environment for future missions and generations of space scientists. Protecting our space environment with increased involvement across the globe in the space sector will ensure that space remains a safe place for human technology and travel.

Moving forward, these recommendations still need to be adopted by the Government. If they are adopted, the recommendations in this report will propel the Australian space industry forward into the future ensuring that it is fair and equitable, and a competitive global player in the growing global space sector. Australia is aiming to position itself as a leader in the space industry. 

To read the full report click here.