Australia to support NASA’s plan to return to the Moon and on to Mars

The Australian Space Agency and NASA have launched a new partnership on future space cooperation.

The future space cooperation includes the opportunity for Australia to join the United States’ Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program.

The Australian Government is investing $150 million over five years for Australian businesses and researchers to join NASA’s endeavour, and deliver key capabilities for the mission. 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, witness the signing of a letter of intent between NASA and the Australian Space Agency by NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, and Dr. Megan Clark AC, Head of the Australian Space Agency, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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." 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said this was a milestone moment for the booming Australian space industry, but would also benefit everyday Australians.

“This agreement is all about opportunity, for us to take the Australian space sector to the next level, grow our economy and create new local jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

“That’s why as a Government we established the Australian Space Agency just over 12 months ago and are investing strongly.”

This investment will focus on three integrated elements that will lift Australian engagement in the global space sector:

  • Demonstrator and pilot projects which showcase investment-ready Australian capabilities to NASA and the U.S.’s international space supply chains (e.g. in the areas of robotics, automation, Artificial Intelligence, and earth observation)
  • Working with NASA to identify how Australia can support a significant part of NASA’s ‘return to the Moon and on to Mars’ program, leveraging Australia’s key strengths (e.g. drawing on the demonstrator and pilot projects)
  • Supporting access to international space supply chains that support NASA, including capability building to help the Australian space sector meet the stringent requirements of supplying products and services in the global space industry

Dr Megan Clark AC, Head of the Australian Space Agency said this announcement marks an important step for Australia, and our growing space industry. 

“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.”

Australia and the U.S. have partnered on space exploration for the last 60 years. Australia’s unique view of space allowed us to send TV images worldwide of Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon, with the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing celebrated this year.

This investment will pave the way for the next 50 years of space co-operation with the U.S. It coincided with the Australian Space Agency and NASA signing a Joint Letter of Intent.

Funding will commence from 2020-21, with the next step involving the Australian Space Agency working with NASA to confirm areas of interest as well as implementation arrangements. Areas of investment will align with the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028 and the identified Civil Space Priority areas.

Investments in the space sector are part of the Australian Government’s plan to grow the economy, outlined in the Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. The investment to join NASA’s campaign will accelerate the government’s target of tripling the size of the Australian space sector to $12 billion and creating up to 20,000 jobs by 2030. It will increase our share of the $350 billion global space market and drive innovation in Australia’s modern, technology-reliant industries.


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