The Australian Space Agency and the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have inked a partnership on future space cooperation, including opportunities to deliver technology for NASA’s Artemis lunar program and their Moon to Mars exploration mission.
The Federal Government will invest $150 million in Australian industry and research to supply launchers, vehicles, and instruments for the US missions.
NASA and the ASA have also signed a Joint Letter of Intent to cement the collaboration between the two agencies. The document was signed by Dr Megan Clark AC, Head of the ASA, and NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the investment would benefit all Australians with more jobs, new technologies and more investment in businesses that would grow the economy.
“We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon, and even Mars, and back,” the Prime Minister said.
“We’re getting behind Australian businesses so they can take advantage of the pipeline of work NASA has committed to.”
The pipeline Prime Minister Morrison referred to will first identify areas of competitive advantage in terms of supplying the Moon to Mars mission.
The investment includes demonstrator and pilot programs of investment-ready Australian proficiencies to enable NASA and US space supply chains. These proficiencies include robotics, automation, remote asset management, artificial intelligence, and geospatial observation.
“The investment will allow our businesses and researchers to contribute Australia’s best ideas and technology to support NASA’s plan to return to the Moon and on to Mars,” said Dr Clark.
Funding will commence from 2020-21, with the next step involving the Australian Space Agency working with NASA to confirm areas of interest and implementation.
The investment will align with the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 and the identified Civil Space Priority areas. The Civil Space Strategy is designed to triple the size of the Australian space manufacturing industry to $12 billion, creating up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. The investment is tipped to increase Australia’s share of the global space market, valued at $350 billion, and drive innovation in manufacturing and technology.
NASA and Australia have cooperated in a scientific capacity for over 60 years. The Parkes, NSW radio telescope was integral in beaming back images, sound, and telemetry from the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon of which this year is the 50th anniversary. Parkes also helped capture vision of astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the lunar surface.