$6m investment in WA space sector

20:00 EDT 10 Jul 2019 | Australian Life Scientist

Western Australia will play a key role in the Australian Space Agency’s (ASA) efforts to triple the size of the nation’s space industry, thanks to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed this week between Federal Science Minister Karen Andrews and WA Science Minister Dave Kelly.

The MoU secures a $6 million investment from the federal government in Western Australia’s space capabilities, which should encourage partnerships and engagement with the global space ecosystem to drive economic growth in WA and nationally. The investment comes in two parts:

  • $4.5 million towards a robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility, which will advance the remote operation of autonomous and robotic systems in space.
  • $1.5 million to support space data analysis facilities, which will support analysis of satellite data for areas such as mining, agriculture, emergency services and maritime surveillance, and will build capability in data analysis for space missions.

The projects will be delivered in collaboration with the Western Australian Government, which has itself allocated $2 million for the partnership with the ASA. Further funding will be considered in future budgets.

Andrews said the MoU “outlines key areas where the Australian Space Agency can work with WA to support business and academia”, and is centred on supporting WA’s space sector to create jobs, diversify the economy and boost innovation.

“Every state in Australia has an important role to play, as we aim to triple the size of the Australian space sector to $12 billion and create another 20,000 jobs by 2030,” she said.

Kelly said it was “great to see our submission to the ASA in August 2018 showing real dividends for the WA space sector”, claiming that the signing of the MoU will unlock national and international opportunities for WA businesses and academia to grow the state’s space industry.

“The robotics and artificial intelligence mission control facility will be a key component in the development of the nation’s capability to advance robotic and autonomous activities in space,” he said. “WA is well placed to play a leading role in this endeavour, building on our world-leading industry expertise in remote operations.

“The support to access and analyse space-sourced data will provide benefit to WA across a range of sectors, and will build capability that could lead to a greater role for WA in the analysis of deep space mission data.”

The Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark, also welcomed the signing of the agreement with the WA Government. She noted, “WA hosts significant civil and defence space infrastructure including the recently opened Airbus Zephyr flight base, has existing collaboration with NASA and the European Space Agency, and will support the Agency’s role in strengthening Australia’s relationship with these and other international space agencies.”

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