4 mins read 22 Sep 2019

Australian Space Agency and NASA heading to the moon

$150M boost to Australian Space Industry to work with NASA on upcoming interplanetary missions

The Australian Space Agency will receive a $150 million package to help boost the local space industry with the aim of assisting NASA on its upcoming return to Moon and Mars missions. The funding is positioned to support a boom in new ideas, technologies and skilled employment in Australian businesses - providing an opportunity to work with NASA on these major missions. 

The large investment will also assist the Australian Space Agency in heading towards its target to triple the size of the Australian space industry to 20,000 employees and $12 billion value by the year 2030. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would benefit all Australians with more jobs, new technologies and more investment in businesses that would grow the economy

"We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon, and even Mars, and back,” the Prime Minister said.

“We’re getting behind Australian businesses so they can take advantage of the pipeline of work NASA has committed to.

"There is an enormous opportunity for Australia’s space sector which is why we want to triple its size to $12 billion to create around 20,000 extra jobs by 2030.

"We’ve partnered with the US in almost all of their missions to space for the last 60 years and this investment paves the way for the next 60. The growing amount of space sector work and innovation will also inspire the next generation to see the future of a career in these fields for the long term.

"The historic commitment continues an already strong alliance and enduring friendship between the U.S. and Australia.”

NASA Missions

NASA has flagged two major missions, the first to return humans to the Moon called Project Artemis and the second to send humans to Mars for the first time in history. 

NASA has stated that their flagship return to the Moon project by NASA called Artemis is committed to landing American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024 (Artemis was Apollo's sister in Greek mythology). 

NASA has stated that the Artemis program will help inspire the next generation by encouraging careers in STEM, in addition to running as a prototype to demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars.

In addition, to project Artemis, NASA is working towards sending a crew on humanity's first interplanetary mission to the red planet, Mars. Using an early draft concept, like 'Mars Transit Vehicle', this science mission would run up to 1,000 days and see humans reach the surface of another planet for the first time. 

Commercial operator, SpaceX, is also working towards a program to reach Mars using its Starship rockets - currently undergoing development and testing this year.

Benefit to All Australians

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said this was a milestone moment for the booming Australian space industry, but would also benefit everyday Australians.

“This agreement is all about opportunity, for us to take the Australian space sector to the next level, grow our economy and create new local jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

“Space also drives technology which has a profound and everyday impact on the lives of Australians – from disaster management to helping farmers better manage their land and predict drought, through to improving GPS.

The Government also welcomed greater cooperation with the US on a number of other cutting-edge science and technology issues – including holding a joint senior-level dialogue to further collaboration on frontier technologies central to the national interest and security.

Enhanced cooperation on hydrogen safety, lithium-ion battery recycling, and collaborative science was also announced.