4 mins read 27 Jul 2020

Space Agency and N.T. Govt. sign MoU

The Australian Space Agency and Northern Territory Government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, taking opportunities of the regions geographic and natural advantage to boost the local and Australian space industry.

Credit: Minister Karen Andrews MP/Twitter

The Australian Space Agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Northern Territory Government, designed to harness the opportunities presented with the Territory’s regional and natural advantages, helping to create local jobs in the region’s space industry.

The agreement is the latest in a series of MoU’s signed by the Agency with a number of State Governments, Universities and domestic businesses, helping establish the foundation to grow the Australian space industry. In addition to this, the Agency has signed several international agreements with counterpart agencies – which have expressed interest in working with state and regional governments across their missions.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Space Agency came at an opportune time. 

“Space is not only a growing sector of its own, but it develops technologies and know-how that can be applied across a range of industries to help Australia emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever,” Minister Andrews said. 

“This MoU will drive the creation of high-tech jobs in the Northern Territory, but will also see the Top End contributing to the economic growth of the whole nation.

“The geographic location of the Northern Territory, including its wide open expanses, makes it a hugely appealing destination for space companies and agencies from around the world. The proximity of the Territory to the equator also means advantages for commercial rocket launch.”

The Norther Territory’s Department of Trade, Business and Innovation has a dedicated strategic vision on how it aims to increase its participation in the Australian space industry, across four key areas of focus:

  • Building knowledge, awareness and enthusiasm for the Territory’s space sector
  • Undertake investment attraction activities and support local space project proponents
  • Work into the Space Agency’s strategic space industry objectives
  • Increase community engagement about space

Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the Northern Territory is a step closer to being a key player in the trillion dollar international space industry with the signing of the MoU, which builds on the Territory Governments’ Territory Space Industry 2020 Plan.  

“While we are working every day to keep Territorians safe from coronavirus, we are also preparing for the rebound – with new industries, new investments and new jobs,” Mr Gunner said.

The Territory’s geographic location near the equator – with ports close to South East Asia, low population density, large open spaces and lack of earthquakes opens opportunities for significant space-based infrastructure like launch facilities to be developed in the region.  

“We are perfectly positioned to benefit from the space economy and the jobs it will bring. We are close to the equator, we aren’t prone to earthquakes, we’re close to the sea and sparsely populated areas, and we have great weather.

“With technology shifts driving growth in the commercial space industry, Australia has the potential to capture a greater share of this global industry and we want the Northern Territory to be at the front of the pack.” said Mr Gunner.

Recently, the Australian Space Agency has been working with local Indigenous Businesses to develop the first Indigenous satellite tracking ground station, and companies like Equatorial Launch Australia in building the Arnhem Space Centre – a launch complex which will take advantage of Earth’s centrifugal force, harnessing the spin of the planet close to the equator to help launch rockets into space.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Dr. Megan Clark AC said this agreement will build on the existing assets in the Northern Territory.

“Existing infrastructure from ground stations such as the indigenous, owned and operated, Centre for Appropriate Technology, and the Alice Springs Balloon Launching Facility show the capability that exists within the Northern Territory,” Dr. Clark said.

“Growing the Northern Territory’s space sector improves other parts of the local economy through the application of space technologies to areas like remote health, bushfire tracking, emergency management, and agriculture.”