The space sector has become an unlikely battleground for competing industry policies in the 2019 election, as Industry Minister Karen Andrews on Monday unveiled a further $3.5 million package to aid a possible launch industry in Australia.
The Coalition has put forward $2.5 million to fund a new Space Payload Qualification Facilities project to help local companies in building space equipment for launch.
The new space payload qualification would provide the infrastructure for small and medium enterprises to test and validate space equipment in Australia, without having to send work overseas.
“The Morrison Government wants to improve our sovereign capabilities in all things to do with space – our aim is to make Australia a leader in the great space adventure we have embraced,” Ms Andrews said.
“The project will seek contributions from states and territories and industry to support its development.”
The Morrison Government also pledged a further $900,000 to study Australia’s readiness in launch capability.
“With such active interest from across Australia, we need to ensure our risk frameworks are appropriate and we meet our international and national obligations,” Minister Andrews said.
“This project will investigate the economic and policy issues posed by a domestic small launch capability, compliance with international obligations, national legislation and regulatory and risk frameworks to protect our national interests, environment and safety.”
The so-called Pathway to Launch project builds on related work underway in the states and territories. Funding for both projects was a part of the $19.5 million Space Infrastructure Fund announced in the 2019-20 budget in April.
Ms Andrews says the space sector in Australia is currently worth $3.9 billion and employs 10,000 people. The government has the ultimate aim of creating another 20,000 jobs and tripling the size of the space sector to $12 billion by 2030.
This will be aided by the expansion of space industries in the states and territories, and is part of our plan to drive further economic growth and create an additional 1.25 million jobs over the next five years.