Issue #3(13) 2017 Astronautics

Australia’s ambitious home-grown space industry

Illustration of the UNSW-EC0 cubesat in orbit above Earth.
Illustration of the UNSW-EC0 cubesat in orbit above Earth.
Giovanni Facchinetti Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

South Australia’s aspirations to become an innovation hub is leading in the development of a space economy for the entire nation. The region’s geographical position and commercial relations, especially regarding its proximity to the Asia-Pacific region, is a competitive advantage for the development of the nation’s space industry. In this context Giovanni Facchinetti looks at the country’s burgeoning smallsat industry and the growing call for an Australian space agency.

South Australia (SA) has a complex and vibrant space ecosystem that fosters innovative companies, universities and research institutions and is home to more than 60 players from academia, government institutions and industry. To promote growth of the space economy in the state, the SA government established in April 2016 the office of Space Industry and Research & Development Collaborations at Defence SA.

Last November it launched the first space strategy of any Australian jurisdiction: ‘The Space Innovation and Growth Strategy (South Australia): Action Plan 2016-2020’, which details the State’s vision through three main pillars, ‘knowledge’, ‘industry and innovation’ and ‘international partnerships’.

Since then a Letter of Intent has been signed with the Italian Space Agency to promote collaboration among companies and research organisations, and dialogue established with the space industries of China and Japan, and with JAXA, the Japanese space agency. France and SA have also discussed space sector collaboration and opportunities to partner with the French space agency, CNES, and French industry in the areas of emerging innovation, including small satellites, advanced manufacturing and data economy.

Several large private companies - including Airbus Defence & Space, BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Australia and Nova Systems - have established, or have shown interest in establishing, their presence in the State, sparking the creation of small and medium-sized companies that now are part of the space supply chain.

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