After decades of debates, reviews, and reports, Australia is finally to get its own national space agency.
Education Minister, the Hon Simon Birmingham, made the announcement at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, currently being attended by more than 3500 space industry experts from around the world, including SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
“I am pleased to announce the Australian government will be establishing a national Australian space agency,” said Birmingham.
“This agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement, with so many of you across the world’s space industries,” he told the crowd.
Birmingham did not reveal additional details, saying only that Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, would reveal more details at a lunch on Tuesday.
The news follows last week’s announcement of the establishment of The South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC).
An Expert Reference Group headed by former CSIRO Chief Dr Megan Clark is currently reviewing Australia’s space industry capability.
Birmingham said that while the review was not yet finished, so far there had been a “compelling” case for Australia to have its own space agency.
At a press conference later in the day, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said many Australian companies already participated in the space sector.
“[Australia’s new space agency will be] a small agency designed to coordinate and lead, but the space sector of course is one of enormous potential,” said Turnbull.
“It is part of our innovation economy, our innovation and science economy.”
The space sector is currently valued at $400 billion.
Today’s announcement comes 50 years after Australia launched its first satellite into space.