Overview of the recent ambitious initiatives initiated by the Australian Space Agency

By Thomas Jones, Matthew Bovaird

01-2021

The Australian Space Agency (ASA) was only established in 2018 but has been very proactive in recent months. This is perhaps unsurprising given the Prime Minister’s stated ambition to triple the size of Australia’s space industry by 2030.

In October, Australia became one of the first signatories to NASA’s Artemis Accords, which establish a set of principles to guide space exploration cooperation, with a stated aim to return to the Moon by 2024.  The Artemis Accords reaffirm the signatories’ commitment to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. 

On 3 November 2020, the ASA announced the second program in its $150M Moon to Mars Initiative was open.  The Demonstrator Program provides a pathway to develop and launch products that will create new capabilities or generate new business ventures or revenue streams.  The first element of this initiative is the $3.7M Demonstrator feasibility grants which will enable businesses to undertake feasibility studies for suitable projects. Grants range from $50,000 to $200,000 and applications closed on 22 December 2020.

The ASA also announced that Enrico Palermo, the current Chief Operating Officer of Virgin Galactic would be taking over from Dr Megan Clark as Head of the ASA from January 2021 with Dr Clark taking on a role as Chair of the ASA Advisory Board.

Finally, on 17 November 2020, the ASA announced a Space Payload Qualification Facilities grant would be made available from the Space Infrastructure Fund, which had been created in the 2019/20 Budget.  The grant is a single grant of up to $2.5M AUD and is intended to remedy gaps identified in Australia space payload testing capabilities.