7 mins read 02 Dec 2021

Industry Symposium Highlight’s Australia’s Space Sector Growth

The inaugural Space Industry Association of Australia Southern Space Symposium brought together an array of participants from across Australia’s communities to outline achievements and discuss progress in a variety of fields, highlighting Australia’s growing space sector.

Full house at the SIAA Southern Space Symposium. Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

Members from across the Australian space communities gathered together in the nation’s capital earlier this week for the inaugural Southern Space Symposium hosted by the Space Industry Association of Australia. With over 200 participants, for many, this was the first opportunity to gather in person since the pandemic started in early 2020, providing a chance to both reflect on the leaps of progress made over the last two years, and network with new participants. 

From the informal dialogue, keynote presentations and panel discussions, one thing was abundantly clear - Australia’s space ecosystem, industries and communities are now roaring through growth, collaboration and a list of achievements that each speaker proudly presented. 

Bringing together some of Australia’s most dedicated minds from the blooming space sector, the event also included excellent discussions on the status quo and future ambitions around topics such as our international partnerships in space, how the Australian Government utilises space-related products and services, and global space security trends. 

Additionally, panels of experts from a range of fields considered the implications and challenges of managing satellite mega-constellations and were transported five years into the future for a hypothesized outlook of where the Australian space industry would be. 

United States Charge D'Affairs, Mike Goldman. Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

His Excellency Mr Shingo Yamagami, Ambassador of Japan to Australia. Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

The two-day event featured many speakers from across different sub-sectors of the Australian space industries as well as VIP guests Mike Goldman (United States Charge D’Affairs), His Excellency Mr Shingo Yamagami (Ambassador of Japan to Australia), Minister for Defence, Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon. Melissa Price MP, Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party and Shadow Minister for Science, the Hon. Richard Marles MP, Department of Home Affairs Secretary Michael Pezzullo AO, Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, and Australian-born Space Shuttle astronaut Dr Paul Scully-Power. 

“There is energy and momentum in Australian space right now and it was excellent to see partnerships and deals being built in the room at the Southern Space Symposium,” said James Brown, CEO of the Space Industry Association of Australia. 

“Our aim was to show progress in Australian space to national decision-makers, to elevate space in the government’s agenda, and to lay the foundations for Australia’s national space strategy”

Australian Space Industry Announcements

Left to right: SIAA CEO - Mr James Brown, Head of the Australian Space Agency - Mr Enrico Palermo, Minister for Defence, Industry, Science and Technology - the Hon. Melissa Price MP., and SIAA Executive Officer - Philip Citowicki. Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

A number of key announcements and reports were launched at the SIAA Space Symposium, expected to benefit not only the core space industries but also interlinked supply-chain markets that are currently working with many Australian space-based businesses and research centres. 

The Australian Minister for Defence, Industry, Science and Technology, Melissa Price MP, announced that small and medium businesses will now be able to apply for round two of the Demonstrator Program (part of the Moon to Mars initiative) and access individual grants of up to $10 million in government funding to build out their space-related products and services, becoming more competitive on the global stage. 

“These investments will position Australian space companies to be able to play a part in future space missions, including NASA’s efforts to go to the Moon and beyond,” Minister Price said.

“The more Australian technology we can help launch into space, the more the global space community stands up and takes notice of our businesses and researchers. 

“We know the world wants to do business with Australian space companies but one of the challenges we face is the relative lack of space heritage that many of their innovative technologies have,” Mr Palermo said.

“We don’t want to see great Australian ideas or technology remain grounded because of a lack of support.”

Geraldine B. Triveno (Deloitte Australia) presenting the ‘Building the Space Nation’ report. Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

A new report (titled Building the Space Nation) was also announced by Deloitte Australia - featuring the thoughts and voices of over 100 space community members, outlining four key themes (and recommendations) across the state of the Australian space ecosystem. These included how to keep, cross-skill, inspire and educate local talent; building a sovereign value proposition, de-risking the ecosystem and increasing engagement through commercialisation, and lastly, building greater cohesion amongst industry stakeholders. 

Additionally, the Australian Space Agency also launched the new Earth Observation from Space Roadmap (2021 - 2030) - the second in a series of seven roadmaps that outlines the important role of Earth Observation (EO) across five focus segments, including Australian EO missions and payloads, international EO partnerships and data management, quality, and usage. 

“The Agency’s roadmaps and the forthcoming Defence Space Strategy help set the framework for investment by space companies and universities,” said Mr Brown. “The Deloitte report shows that we have not yet reached the critical mass necessary for Australia to maintain a sustainable and effective national space industry in a global space market.” 

Integrating Space to the Australian Public

Discussing the implications of satellite mega-constellations (left to right): Melrose Brown (UNSW Canberra Space), Glenn Tindall (CEO EOS Space Systems), Melissa de Zwart, SIAA Deputy Chairperson and Professor Flinders University, Lynn McDonald, Space Lead Microsoft Azure, and moderator Jeremy Hallett, SIAA Director and CEO Clearbox Systems.Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

A clear picture was painted on how space services are integrated into the Australian public in the first-panel discussion, featuring members from the Australian Space Agency, Geoscience Australia, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology - in which each agency outlined how they utilise data, products, and assets from space to provide everyday services to millions of people around the nation. 

The conversations centred on boosting Australia’s space sovereign capabilities in providing these services as many of our everyday functions (like weather reporting, agriculture and land management, etc.) are supplied by international partners - which introduces risks (e.g. data supply) into our requirements capability - something highlighted by Government officials as well. 

A hot topic of discussion at the moment (across all global space industries) is related to the benefits/impacts (and planned mitigation) of the challenges now being presented with the rise and of satellite mega-constellations. Delegates from across industries that included computing, academics, legal and space industry conversed on how the space communities were having to now deal with the roll-out of thousands of additional satellites in the sky.  

Not only were issues of space traffic management raised but an examination on the implications on the global Indigenous community’s cultural connection to the sky and the validity of the business model (especially in the case where constellation companies become bankrupt leaving assets unmanaged) was also applied.

In an enlightening discussion about the mental health aspects of space travel, the role of EO in climate change mitigation on Earth, and the scalability and flexibility of future sovereign launch capability - the Southern Space Symposium concluded with participants being transported five years onto the future as stated through the reflections and views of a panel that featured representatives from Optus, Symbiosis Communications, Southern Launch, Geospatial Intelligence, and Aspen Medical. 

“We look forward to bringing more voices from space startups and SMEs into our next Southern Space Symposium, as well as broadening the discussion with Australia’s international partners in space,” added Mr Brown.  

“And we clearly have more work to do as an industry to address how we will build and train our space workforce. We don’t take the success of Australia’s space industry for granted and the opportunities the annual symposium provides will be critically important to shaping our future.”


Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).

Credit: SIAA/EventPix (supplied).