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Australia’s Space Agency Must Define Our Future in Space

By Malcolm Davis

Australia’s space agency needs to embrace the small, agile and innovative path of Space 2.0.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

With Australia set to establish its own space agency, the question of what that organisation will do is of key importance. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s website suggests that “the agency will provide international representation, support to critical partnerships, coordination of a national strategy and activities, and support for industry growth”.

In contrast to that bland bureaucratic language, popular debate often pushes for ambitious goals. Sending our own astronauts on Moon and Mars missions is a common theme on social media. While such goals encourage the next generation of space thinkers, Australia must be practical and pragmatic going forward, and ensure its space activities are fully sustainable in budgetary and political terms.

We must be aware of a number of risks. Previous attempts to develop an Australian space program have foundered due to lack of government interest and sustained financial support, as well as incoherent approaches to formulation of space policy.

There is also a perception that space is expensive to do. Mention space to political leaders, particularly in the context of human space flight, and politicians see Apollo, the Space Shuttle or the International Space Station. Big projects mean big money – look at NASA’s Space Launch System – and at that point the money disappears and dreams are torn...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.