3. Growing the Space Industry

Space has long been the domain of government. The high costs and significant risks associated with space has meant that governments around the world have taken the lead on investment in space related research, development and operation.1 This, however, is changing. A growing number of private entities are now working with space agencies to support missions and supply new space technology and services.2
The changing nature of the global space industry brings new opportunities for Australian businesses. The Australian Space Agency (ASA) stated:
This rapid transformation of industry and the space sector is one of the many reasons why Australia can harness a greater share of the global space economy. There are a growing number of business opportunities and Australian businesses have a range of capabilities that can diversify into the space sector. This means that, unlike traditional systems and structures for involvement in space, government’s role can be one of a partner and facilitator.3
The Committee heard that while the Australian Government has made a ‘good start’ in supporting the Australian space sector, this will not be sufficient to meet the 2030 targets, and additional support is required.4

Sovereign capability

The Australian space industry recognises that it needs to develop sovereign space capability. This means that it has what it needs domestically to design, build and maintain its space requirements. Stakeholders argued that developing a sovereign space capability would:
reduce Australia’s reliance on other nations for space
stimulate the domestic space industry by fostering the development of skills, expertise and ‘know-how’
position Australia as a globally competitive player in space
strengthen national security and defence capabilities
stimulate innovation
help grow the economy and assist in post-COVID recovery.
As summarised by Gilmour Space Technologies:
In this contested and competitive world, there is no question that Australia will need to develop sovereign space capabilities. We currently spend over half a billion dollars a year on imported space data and capabilities. The global commercial potential is huge. The national security risks are high. And beyond just being inspiring, new space technologies will offer tremendous benefits to everyday Australians.5
Underpinning the call for sovereign space capability is Australia’s reliance on the space assets and capabilities of other countries. This includes space related goods, services, infrastructure and skilled people. If access to these international assets is restricted or closed, Australia is likely to be left without the space based services and programs on which it depends. Asia Pacific Aerospace Consultants explained:
At the moment all of Australia’s weather and earth observation data, position navigation & timing data and most of its satellite communications (with the exception of the NBN and to a degree the Optus satellites) is obtained from foreign owned and operated satellites. …space-related products and services are used in every sector of the Australian economy. Hence the Australian economy is highly vulnerable to the loss of these space-related products and services.6
The NSW Government also noted Australia’s vulnerability, particularly regarding defence and national security. It stated:
Sovereign capability in space technologies enhances Australia’s economic and national security. Australia, like every other nation, is increasingly dependent upon the space domain for communications, navigation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and scientific endeavours. Space will have significant implications for national security, and so Australia needs access to space technologies and the ability to deploy and utilise space assets to support national defence objectives. Relying on other nations to provide critical parts of this capability, such as satellite development, increases Australia’s vulnerability.7
Dependency on foreign owned space assets has been acutely heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has restricted access to global supply chains. It has also restricted access to skilled international workers.
While there was consensus that Australia should develop sovereign space capability, it was acknowledged that ‘sovereignty’ needs to be defined. In its submission, Airbus Defence and Space stated:
There is no official and widely-used Australian definition of ‘sovereignty’. We recommend that the Australian Government defines the term and applies it to a settled strategy, ensuring that all federal procurement supports future sovereign industrial and research capability, as well as freedom of action.8
Similarly, Electro Optic Systems (EOS) encouraged the Committee to consider what sovereignty means and what a sovereign industry capability is, noting that this is central to how Australia’s space industry will evolve.9 It argued that ‘there are certain space capabilities and services that must be developed, manufactured, managed and owned by Australian entities’.10 This is because some technologies and capabilities are too vital ‘to be left in the hands of overseas production and management’. Professor Craig Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Space Systems, EOS said:
If nothing else, the last year of COVID has taught us that, while global supply chains have some benefits, they also come with risks and liabilities. So, to us, 'sovereign' means that Australia's space industry, and any industry for that matter, doesn't fall over just when the global supply chain hits a speed bump.11
EOS recommended that Australia ‘confirm a strict definition of “sovereignty” with a requirement to protect and advance Australia’s space-related interests’.12

Space ecosystem

A strong manufacturing base will be central to developing a sovereign space capability.13 While Australia has some manufacturing and technological capabilities that can contribute to the space sector, this will need to be more strategically developed and grown to sustain an industry. Stakeholders highlighted the need for Australia to develop and maintain an ‘ecosystem’ of space related companies, infrastructure, research institutions, investment avenues, education and training streams, and employment opportunities to ensure that it has the necessary foundation to build sovereign capability.
Air Vice-Marshal Hart, AM (Retired), Queensland Defence Advisor for Aerospace stated:
We've got some really smart people who are very focused and very deep but until we build those capacities to actually build the vehicles, do the data analysis and grow those skilled pathways to get people into technical and engineering and other roles, in my mind we don't have a national capability. We've got some great technology, but we actually need to build that sovereign and national capability as we go through.14
Mr Matthew Opie, Director, Defence and Space, University of South Australia referred to a ‘broad ecosystem’ and drew similarities with growing Australia’s defence industry. Mr Opie told the Committee:
…a successful space industry in Australia needs a broad ecosystem. That ecosystem would include a range of international companies and partners mixed with local industry, local and international funding mechanisms and an ecosystem to support the development of a sovereign industrial capability. This cannot be done by research funding or isolated funding alone. It needs to be a broad base.
I draw some comparisons with the defence industry, which enjoys significant acquisition projects and research funds, resulting in a sovereign industrial capability in certain areas for defence. 15
Mr Opie identified the need to support start-ups to turn ideas into product and profit, and for ‘a resourcing, skills, training and jobs plan’.16
Mr Roger Franzen, Director and Principal, EarthSpace, also emphasised the need for specialised education and training, highlighting a lack of ‘know-how’, particularly of deep space engineering knowledge, and the absence of a sovereign space supply chain. Mr Franzen used Australia’s car industry to highlight the point:
Take the car industry, for example. We no longer have it, but before that it was the peak integrator, and underneath it there was a pyramid of supply, capability, capacity and know-how to make cars. We don't have that pyramid under the space industry at this time, so there is an essential step that we need to take to build that. Some of that's going to be the responsibility of industry. Some of it will be aided by government intervention.17
Earthspace concluded that the Australian Government will need to be ‘proactive and interventionist’ to support ground up development and the supply pyramid that is currently missing.18 This includes the development of space capability that meets international space engineering standards.
Earthspace recommended that all Commonwealth space procurements mandate international standards as it will force ‘Australian companies to become familiar with these standards and thereby, familiar with the expectations of the international marketplace’.19 Earthspace further called for training and guidance to assist with the implementation of these standards in participating companies.20
Shaol made the same recommendation regarding government procurement and international space engineering standards. It identified two international standards – the European Cooperation for Space Standardization (ECSS) and the NASA Technical Standards – that could be adopted by Australia.21

Partnering with primes

The Committee heard that to develop sovereign capability, Australian businesses can benefit from the support of larger space companies or ‘primes’. This is because established, reputable and experienced space primes can essentially give smaller Australian businesses a ‘leg-up’ to develop space expertise and access global markets. Boeing Australia highlighted the role that space primes can play in developing Australia’s space industry:
help accelerate industry development by transferring skills and knowledge developed through decades of space operations in the United States and Europe
flatten the learning curve in areas such as manufacturing, certification, and operations by involving primes with a high level of expertise
send skilled international space experts to work with Australian counterparts
invest in R&D with Australian research organisations and specialist SMEs to develop local IP and grow technical and research capability
invest in education programs for space at the secondary and tertiary level, offering a variety of learning opportunities to attract and grow talent
include Australian SMEs in global supply chains
assist Australian industry to focus on sustainable opportunities.22
Other space primes highlighted the same advantages. Mr Martin Rowse, Key Account Manager, Space, Airbus Defence and Space identified the role that space primes can play in bridging the gap between civil space capability and Australia’s defence requirements. He told the Committee:
there's a commercialisation gap between the companies that Australia has at the moment—the small, very niche and very capable companies and the large budgets that are required to meet Australia's defence requirements. There are ways that we can look to meet in the middle. There are ways in which we can commercialise that. That really needs partnerships with large companies that are able to do that.23
In its submission, Airbus recommended that Australia adopt a ‘hub and spoke’ approach to space, drawing on a large prime company to assist Australian industry develop a critical mass of space expertise and global access.24 It also identified the 2017 Naval Shipbuilding Plan and the 2018 Defence Export Strategy as useful approaches to partnering with primes.25
Thales Australia noted it signed a statement of strategic intent with the ASA to support industry growth through technology transfer, collaboration, and connecting SMEs into global supply chains.26 It explained these elements:
We think technology transfer is the No. 1 element because it enables Australia to benefit from the work that's been done globally…we don't need to reinvent the wheel… A lot of the IP is company owned, so it requires that company link to facilitate the technology transfer and then build on it in Australia. This is the model we've used in defence and in air traffic management…
… you need a solid, in-country base of engineering expertise, science expertise, to capitalise on that technology and to develop it and work globally with experts in the field. That's the collaboration element.
One of the characteristics of the Australian industrial sector, and certainly the space sector, is the proliferation of small and medium enterprises, many of which are in very smart, niche technologies. Bringing them into the global supply chain of a big global company like Thales Alenia Space is a way to build their capability and also make their business more sustainable by accessing export markets.27
Thales Australia noted the value of accessing global supply chains as a means of evening out the ‘peaks and troughs’ of domestic space programs. This was identified as a broader whole-of-government challenge across civil and defence sectors.28
Northrop Grumman also discussed the role of primes in supporting start-ups and SMEs, however identified a lack of incentives for primes.29 It said:
As it currently stands, there is no incentive for Primes to help SMEs increase their technology readiness levels (TRL) to a commercially viable model. Government support through grants is commendable, and a necessity; however, developing strong business-to-business relationships is the next step in growing the industry.30
Northrop Grumman recommended that the Australian Government consider a publicly available investment program that encourages business to business collaboration, and supports businesses of all sizes, including primes, to achieve long term capability investment that supports sector growth.31
Boeing Australia recommended that primes seeking to bid on major space programs should demonstrate their commitment to supporting Australian industry, including meaningful investment in Australia’s space capabilities.32 It drew an important distinction between primes conducting business from overseas in Australia, and primes that ‘extend and integrate’ their global businesses into Australia.33
Fostering partnerships between primes and SMEs serves to primarily assist businesses to develop capability and grow the domestic space industry. However, the Committee heard that support for SMEs is needed more generally. This is independent of a relationship with primes. For example, Mr Mark Skidmore, Executive Chair, SkyKraft expressed the view that smaller competent companies do not necessarily need larger companies to succeed: He told the Committee:
I think small companies can play in the global market. I can't see any reason why they can't. That's exactly what we want to do. We want to play in the global market. There's no reason why you can't put a constellation of small satellites up and provide global services.34
Swinburne University argued that SMEs are proven in their ability to innovate and develop products with significant commercial potential and called for access to funding in the earlier stages, and direct petitioning by the Commonwealth in international markets to accelerate SME progress and prevent businesses from being locked out.35
Shoal agreed that Government spending is required to encourage entrepreneurs, and argued that it must be directed to those that have an export disciple so they can become internationally competitive.36

Access to capital

The availability of venture capital was identified as a particular challenge facing the Australian space sector. The Committee heard that the largest venture capital firms in Australia barely match the smallest funds elsewhere.37 This puts a low ceiling on the financial viability of funds to strategically invest in many local space technology businesses. It also increases the probability that space technology companies will eventually move overseas to access larger capital markets.38
To kick-start space businesses, people need an idea, support and financial backing. Australia however was described as being ‘risk adverse’ in taking on new challenges and investing in space related start-ups. For example, Mr Troy McCann, Chief Executive Officer of Moonshot said:
We're very risk averse over here. We're on the other side of the earth. We're very far removed. We have tall poppy syndrome incredibly. If you are someone who steps outside of that, generally it's very hard to say, 'I'm going to go and start a company,' let alone, 'I'm going to go and start a space company.' It's very hard to get that support… How do we change the culture of our people and how do we empower them to say, 'I'm going to go and try to do something that no-one else has done before'?39
Cultural change and incentives for investors were suggested as ways to address this problem. Mr McCann identified a role for government in this process:
If the government, through the Space Agency, for example, could provide incentives for investors—matched funding and things like that—to make more of those more risky bets in space startups, then that would be an incredible service to help raise more people and give them that opportunity to try to invent, to fail, to succeed and to pull themselves up above the market.40
In its submission, Moonshot emphasized that matched funding requirements not only help to align the interests of private investors with government, it will help to encourage more private capital for investment into an inherently risky asset class.41
Symbios Communications also noted the lack of venture capital in Australia to support industry and the risk adverse nature of financial institutions. It remarked that Australia has a global reputation for being innovative, however, the small size and scope of its early stage venture capital investment relative to Europe and the USA means that targeted strategic support from the government takes on extra importance.42 Specifically it stated:
We do not have a technical incubation and angel investor heritage anywhere near the USA and our financial institutions are notoriously conservative. This places additional focus on the support from government to ensure that good ideas are recognised, encouraged, and practically supported.43
Symbios Communications suggested a number of approaches to better support the industry including:
direct funding - to address a clear requirement
targeted investment - in developing capabilities with demonstrated or anticipated economic potential
attracting private investment - via taxation incentives for venture capital investors, incubators, clusters, and providing other public resources and facilities
public-private partnerships - via commercial-government co-investment, and government anchor tenancy of a service or system.44
Gilmour Space Technologies noted that space companies funded by venture capital are often unsuccessful in government grant applications, potentially because they are thought to not need funding.45 It argued that significant resources are required for space development and the private sector should not be solely responsible for this.46 Instead, ‘government funding should favour relevant venture capital backed companies as they will leverage any assistance to accelerate growth … often at a ratio of 1 to 5’.47
Vocus, an Australian-owned specialist fibre and network solutions provider, argued that private sector investment is fundamental to enabling competition, building scale and developing capability.48 It submitted that the Australian government should pursue policy and regulatory settings for the space and satellite sector that incentivise private-sector investment and local industry development, for example by using its purchasing power to develop local industry rather than directly funding a Government Business Enterprise – as was the case with the NBN’s two Sky Muster satellites.49
The South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC) noted that for private investment to play a leading role in space sector growth, the following factors need to be considered:
technology investors value speed and agility; which can be adversely impacted by local regulation or international regulation, such as the US International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
investors value proof of revenue earning and therefore contracts for products and services are more valued than traditional grants
an extant supply chain is a known risk in an inherently risky activity and is therefore difficult to substitute without a business imperative for change
new suppliers must demonstrate space flight heritage to displace other providers.50
In framing Australia’s polices, SASIC states that there is a need to understand these factors and carefully balance these interests.51
Swinburne University of Technology advocated for streamlined access to funding mechanisms and increased efficiency of investment by reducing complexity and enhancing transparently. Professor Alan Duffy, Director, Space Technology and Industry Institute told the Committee:
…it's not always entirely clear what the intended outcome of the scheme was versus the stated goals or at least the rules by which the funding scheme had been set up. A maturing sector and a maturing involvement of government in funding that sector will lead to a more streamlined and transparent process.52


Start-ups and businesses not only require funding support. Essential infrastructure and testing facilities are also needed to support the Australian space industry. Smartsat CRC stated that Australia either lacks, or is at a very early stage of development, of the following critical infrastructure and capabilities that are essential for a space faring nation:
Satellite design, manufacturing and testing capabilities
Earth observation sensors, both design and build capabilities
Internet of Things (IoT) sensors; whilst Australia has the design capabilities it lacks the manufacturing capabilities
Satellite launch facilities; none exist at present although two are proposed (Southern Launch and Equatorial Launch Australia)
Operational in-country rocket construction and infrastructure for manufacturing
Mission control; will be operational in 2021. Optus provide mission control capabilities for geo-stationary satellites from Belrose, NSW
Earth observation: Australia neither owns nor operates any earth observation (remote sensing satellites) although it relies on around 25 satellites for fundamental services
Telecommunications (broadband): NBN Co owns and operates two Skymuster satellites supplying broadband internet to regional, rural and remote users. The Singapore owned Optus operate a fleet of five geostationary satellites that provide metropolitan and some limited regional communications services
Telecommunications (IoT sensor communications): Australia is well positioned to benefit from this emerging market segment through Fleet Space and Myriota which have plans to launch a combined total of around 200 satellites into LEO
Position, Navigation and Timing (PNT) (that is GPS and similar satellite systems): Australia does not own or operate any of the six global and regional GPS-like systems. In 2018 the Government funded Geoscience Australia to acquire a SBAS (a single geostationary satellite) that will operate as supporting capability for the GPS-like systems.53
The Committee heard that Australia could do more to leverage its existing infrastructure; facilitating national and international opportunities for industry. ANU InSpace argued that Australia has many advantages in the global space industry. Building, expanding or using essential infrastructure across priority areas will enable international recognition of the Australian space ecosystem outside of communications and launch capabilities.54 It stated:
We have unique opportunities for industry growth and the spinning-off of cutting-edge research. We have experience successfully opening essential infrastructure to grow the national space industry, but we need government help to make that access available nationally and deliver exceptional translational outcomes.55
Stakeholders stressed the need for appropriate space infrastructure to support industry reach its technology readiness level (TRL), which can involve ‘an expensive series of steps.’56 As explained by Mr Rod Drury, Vice President International, Lockheed Martin Space, Lockheed Martin Australia:
There are two very significant valleys, if you like, where we need a lot of investment to make progress, and you need access to that infrastructure, whether that be test chambers or other ground facilities.
… As you develop the technology, you need it for a particular period of time, but then you may not need access to the particular vacuum chamber or anechoic chamber to shake a table. You may not need access to that thing for some period of time, but another company that's doing the same capability—what we don't need is every company, every university, all investing in similar technologies.57
Earthspace commented on access to space test facilities noting its expense and suggested that the Commonwealth consider subsidising the cost of testing during the first 10 years of the ASA’s industry development plans.58
Similarly, the SASIC recommended that common use space engineering laboratories be established for development and testing of space hardware and sensors thereby reducing barriers to entry for local design and manufacture.59
Professor Rod Boswell highlighted a role for government to support the development of tools and infrastructure to allow Australian entities ‘to conduct research and development and arrive at creative and innovative solutions to the challenges faced in space focusing on the areas of minerals, materials and agriculture’.60
Regulatory issues were raised in relation to space infrastructure. For example, Mr Drury encouraged the Committee to consider existing infrastructure and regulations around space parks:
Clearly, we're already here, so I just want to amplify that we believe there are already capabilities on the ground here in the region. Clearly, that's why we're here. Clearly, that's why we've taken decisions to put other technologies and capabilities here. Our intention is actually to optimise that facility, in a footprint sense, completely. Some of the activities government may wish to consider would be to do with the regulatory authority around space parks, for example. Right at the moment, previous governments have approved a space park, as I understand it, in the area of Kootingal, just south of Tamworth. The question I would have is: given that that facility is not being used, why not make the space park at Uralla?61
Similarly, regulation affecting infrastructure development was raised at the Committee’s public hearing in Brisbane. Mr Blake Nikolic, Chief Executive Officer, Black Sky Aerospace shared his experience of trying to establish launch testing facilities in Quilpie. He explained to the Committee:
We need enough infrastructure to be able to develop an industry, build an industry and build an ecosystem. Not only will we be creating jobs in these areas; when we talk about the space industry, it's not all about rocket scientists. We're talking about everything from security, catering and looking after the site right down to finding the local talent that can actually manufacture and put hard labour into the facility. Further, at the time, we were talking about a drought stricken area. We were hearing of suicide rates going through the roof in these areas, and here is a new, thriving industry that's going to be worth trillions in the not-too-distant future internationally, and we can deliver a small piece of the puzzle in these rural areas.62
For Black Sky Aerospace, its efforts to establish a launch testing facility were thwarted by changes to government regulation. Mr Nikolic further explained:
The whole thing was lost because of a material change of use, and we didn't want to pay a third party to assess the road, and the entire thing fell apart again.
There were two parts to change of use. One, the environmental: what were we changing on the site? At the time, with the mobile infrastructure, nothing. They actually took that away, because they said: 'We're not cutting down any trees. We're not actually cutting any roads. We're not doing anything.' For the road itself, which carries cattle trucks, road trains and that, they wanted us to do a full assessment about how small-scale vehicles would affect the road. Because we wouldn't actually do that, because we didn't have the funding to pay third parties for that, the whole thing was quashed.63
Space infrastructure is fundamental national infrastructure. To appreciate the national capability, there is a need to determine what Australia currently has, where it is located and what is needed. This will enable informed decisions to be made about future investment and coordination of infrastructure across the space industry.
The Queensland Government emphasized federal leadership and support for space infrastructure across the nation. It stated that states and territories would benefit from increased infrastructure collaboration and coordination to ensure that development efforts are complementary to other jurisdictions.64
Some stakeholders considered a role for Infrastructure Australia in this process. In its submission, Infrastructure Australia noted:
Our current operating framework does not include any formal requirements to provide policy or investment advice specifically for the space industry. Notwithstanding this, we are generally supportive of investment to grow the space industry in Australia and consider that some components of our work-program could be leveraged by the space industry to guide investment or policy considerations.65
While Infrastructure Australia advised that it has ‘no formal plans to play a more active role in Australia’s space industry, including through the development of sector specific guidance’ it did state that it is ‘well positioned to support the space industry through the provision of strategic advice on the broader infrastructure sector’.66
SmartSatCRC set out the national space architecture it considers Australia needs over the next seven years. This is listed in Appendix D.

Industry data

Measuring the Australian space industry with standard industry datasets is challenging.67 Deloitte stated this presents a key challenge for understanding and estimating the value of the space industry in a way that can be benchmarked against other Australian industries and global space industries.68
The NSW Government identified a lack of specific data as ‘one of the most challenging aspects’ of measuring Australia’s space industry.69 It stated:
Due to the lack of Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) codes specifically for the space industry, mapping and tracking the growth of the industry is difficult to plot and understand.70
In particular, the NSW Government highlighted the absence of substantial revisions to the ANZSIC since 2006. It asserts that the inclusion and measurement of the space sector in the ANZIC would support the tracking of the space industry’s growth, which is expected to be exponential in decades to come.71
The SIAA also discussed industry data in its submission. It asserted that there is ‘no single source of truth’ on companies or individuals involved in the space industry, and noted that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ‘does not collect data for the space industry in the way it does for other more established industries’.72
Mr James Brown, Chief Executive Officer of SIAA told the Committee:
It's very hard to track the industry when you don't have those codes and you can't say who's definitively in and who's definitively out.73
The SIAA recommended that a specific ABS classification be developed to help track Australia’s space industry growth.74

Strengths and opportunities

Stakeholders identified a range of opportunities for Australia to develop specific sovereign capacity. The Committee consistently heard that smallsats, data applications, ground stations and launch facilities are competitive strengths for Australia.75 Furthermore, Australia’s strengths in other sectors not traditionally associated with space – such as mining, medicine and advisory services – present real opportunities for the domestic space sector.
The Queensland Government underscored the importance of national direction in developing space capabilities :
Australian industries collectively have all the elements to build sovereign national space capabilities. However, these capabilities are often pockets of niche expertise outside what is usually considered the core space industry. Compared to long established industries such as aerospace, the emerging Australian space industry is only now starting to connect across different disciplines and to seek national direction about the types of capabilities Australia would like to develop as a nation.76
Northrop Grumman argued that Australia must play to its strengths and focus on those areas where it enjoys a comparative advantage, avoiding ambitious or ambiguous programs that don’t futureproof desired strategic outcomes.77 It stated that this begins with the Federal Government focusing and prioritising its investments across the space capability spectrum by working with industry to define where the country has a comparative advantage and where sovereign capabilities should be a priority.78
Northrop Grumman identified three priority areas including transmission and exploitation of space-derived data, space control and operations, and space governance and regulatory standards.79 By focusing effort and resources on these areas, Northrop Grumman argued it will help to avoid the risks associated with developing the industry too quickly, particularly where it has not met the required level of maturity and self-sufficiency. It will also allow for informed and targeted policy and investment decisions.80
Boeing Australia identified a similar set of areas as opportunities to grow and enhance Australia’s space industry including advanced software development capabilities, artificial intelligence and machine learning, capabilities in niche emerging technologies, and establishing a contemporary regulatory framework.81
Shoal stressed the importance of developing capability that does not seek to replicate what has been achieved elsewhere. Rather, it argued Australia should identify areas where it can differentiate its space industry from others. This means identifying and building on Australia’s strengths, as well as exploring emerging areas.82
Some selected strengths and opportunities are discussed below. Launch and space tracking, and the potential for Australia to leverage a contemporary and progressive regulatory framework are discussed in subsequent chapters.

Satellites and Earth observation

Earth observation (EO) involves using data from satellites to see and respond to what is happening on Earth. It is sometimes called remote sensing.83 Examples of how EO is used in Australia are set out in Box 3.1.
Earth Observation Australia explained the relevance of EO:
Australia has unique marine, coastal, terrestrial and atmospheric environments, and the monitoring, management and sustainable use of these are driven at all levels of government and industry by Earth observation satellite information. It is essential we significantly increase Australia’s application and technological expertise in EO, and our ability to collect the data, through growth and development in Australia’s EO (and space industry) capability, development, and skilled workforce.84

Box 3.1:   Satellite data applications85

Agriculture, Meteorology and the Environment: EO data will continue to provide key inputs for monitoring soil, rainfall, snow cover, drought and crop development.
Transport, Logistics and Smart Cities: EO offers the ability to analyse and monitor transport networks by detecting and counting vehicles on roads, freight vehicles, aircrafts and monitoring road structure and congestion management.
Defence, Security and Surveillance: with space proficiency becoming more sophisticated, governments are strengthening intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Prevention, response and recovery: the space sector is well positioned to support government to improve its capability in emergency management.
Mining and Exploration: opportunities for the space sector to impact mining and energy are twofold – either improving existing Earth-based mining practices (e.g. global positioning and communications advances), or new resource exploration opportunities (such as asteroid mining).
Telecommunications and Connectivity: the introduction of machine learning, AI, IoT and nanosatellite constellations has opened the doors to improved connectivity and lower latencies. This will touch many sectors and provide access to education and healthcare resources in remote regions.
Health and Pharmaceuticals: satellite imagery allows us to monitor spread of diseases, vegetation health, climate changes, atmosphere changes and pollution concentration. In addition, the pharmaceuticals industry can benefit from manufacturing experiments off-Earth.
Travel and Tourism: the tourism and leisure industries are using high resolution imagery and GPS data to evaluate and assess attractions such as resorts, cultural experiences, and sports arenas to provide travellers accurate up-to-date detailed mapping of their destinations.
Insurance, Finance and Retail: Earth observation helps insurers and financial institutions to better understand and analyse the impact of natural disasters, identify infrastructure that has been damaged and estimate the overall financial damage cost.
Space Exploration and Operations: upstream space capabilities such as launch, manufacturing, automation and robotics have a pivotal role in enabling downstream capabilities supported by industry demand.
Space companies around the world are developing sovereign capabilities to design, manufacture and test space systems for future space exploration and operations.
Australia does not currently own its own EO satellites.86 Yet its use across Australia is extensive. As described by the CSIRO:
…over 140 government programs, state and federal, and associated stakeholders, rely on unencumbered access to satellite-derived Earth observation data to address areas of national benefit including climate and disaster monitoring, managing our water and natural resources, and monitoring the environment.87

Box 3.2

CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) jointly developed the Open Data Cube platform technology. 88 Data Cube data analytics platforms support public access and use of petabyte-scale Earth observation datasets.89
Data Cubes provide the digital infrastructure to facilitate Earth observation data discovery and integration.90 In addition, they enable governments and industry, including Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), to undertake scalable and low start-up cost data analysis to develop new business products.91
The Open Data Cube allows data to be brought in from multiple sensors and different satellites into a single super computer or cloud based computer system.92 As the Open Data Cube is written as an open source code, it is effectively owned by everyone who contributes to it.93
Companies use the Open Data Cube as a platform to do their processing because it saves them effort in having to implement their own super-computers.94 It is already loaded with data so private companies can put their own applications on top of it, value add to it and conduct business in this way.95
Stakeholders called for Australia to develop sovereign satellite capability. For example, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), a significant user of EO, noted that Australia is one of a small number of developed nations that has no sovereign satellite weather observing capability. Rather, Australia obtains its data free of charge under the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Resolution 40.96
The BoM highlighted that while access to data provided under the WMO Resolution has ‘worked well’, ‘there is no guarantee that access to satellite data will continue in the long run’.97 It stated:
In recent years there has been an exponential growth in commercial satellite data providers offering new business models, resulting in potential threats and opportunities in the space industry. In the future, this may pose a risk to the volume of data the Bureau can access if current arrangements for the free and open exchange of international satellite data are reduced.98
The BoM recommended that Australia develop sovereign capability to meet national weather observation needs, address gaps in the global weather observation systems, and ensure continuity of data.99 In addition to secure access to data, other benefits advocated by the BoM include:
a strengthened relationship with key international partners
an opportunity for the Australian space industry to develop technology to benefit the national and international meteorological community
enhanced weather and climate services for Australia, and
the development of expertise and capability in technology which could be exported.100
The Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience Initiative also advocated for a sovereign owned satellite technology. It stated that:
Unlike other countries, Australia has not historically had a dedicated satellite capability to assist with building resilience to fire and flood. There is an opportunity to implement solutions fit for purpose in Australia which will support mitigation of risk will provide improved monitoring of vulnerability and exposure and will detect early changes in hazards caused by climate change.101
The Minderoo Foundation argues that Australia can not only lead the world in disaster resilience, which is an exportable commodity, but with improved space based communications Australian communities will no longer be vulnerable to the effects of natural hazards.102 The NSW Government advocated for Australian managed and owned satellites, particularly for bushfire management. 103
From an agriculture perspective, Mr Tim Neale, Managing Director, Data Farming, told the Committee that other countries tend to know more about Australia’s crops than it does. This can have commercial implications. Mr Neale said:
… There's been this sort of rumour—it's a bit of a joke, I guess, but it's not a joke, really—that other countries like China and the US know more about our wheat than we do and that we should be doing the same to the other countries too. And why not? We need the intelligence, and they're gathering a lot of intelligence on our production system.104
A similar point was made by the NSW Government which noted that Australia is charged to access information after that information is seen by other nations. It stated:
An example of this is monitoring crop yield. We rely on other nations to provide us information on our crop yields, and so by the time we receive the data, they have already analysed it. This can have massive flow on impacts on trade and price negotiations as they will know more about our yields than our farmers.105
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute shared similar concerns noting that Australia needs to reduce its dependency on foreign providers of space capability. It stated:
government should expand our ability for small satellite design, development, and manufacture, including establishing an ability to rapidly produce large numbers of small satellites for operationally responsive space requirements to augment existing space capability in a future crisis.106
Earth Observation Australia advanced that Australia already has the ‘building blocks’ to support a sovereign EO capability. It identified the following characteristics:
well-established capabilities in transforming satellite imagery to information in all levels of government and small business
world leading and recognised science and EO
collaboration with international space science teams, including the European Space Agency, NASA, or Japan
a focus on building and delivering services that decision-makers will need and use
indigenous understanding and management of country based on Indigenous people being on the ground and seeing what is happening
being well positioned as a good testing facility given our terrestrial, marine and atmospheric environments.107
Earth Observation Australia listed a series of current limitations and future needs to better support this industry. Primarily this includes certainty and sustained investment for the development of EO missions. It noted that ‘without this, Australia is unable to move forward in the design, development and operation of space EO satellite missions’.
Swinburne University of Technology also recommended investment in sovereign satellite constellations to enhance Australia’s EO. It stated that this would enable unencumbered access for Australian organisations to satellite data, increasing efficiency and productivity, a range of economic benefits, and increase the capacity of defence and emergency services.108 Professor Alan Duffy, Director, Space Technology and Industry Institute, Swinburne University of Technology promoted Australia’s potential:
We can start afresh. In that way, we can leverage the new model where, rather than sending a single billion dollar satellite to some high orbit, latest technologies—in particular, microelectronics—allow you to have something much smaller but of equal power and, indeed, send up several of those as a constellation such that, as one flies overhead, the next satellite picks up the observation, and you can provide that constant monitoring. That's particularly critical for emergency services, where there may well be rapidly changing on-the-ground scenario situations, and you simply cannot wait 90 minutes for the next flyover; you really need to provide that constant monitoring capability.109
In its evidence to the inquiry, the ASA noted the potential of EO to be delivered as a mission set. Mr Enrico Palmero, Head of Agency, told the Committee:
…probably earth observation would be at the top of the list from my perspective. What we can leverage there is some competitive strengths we have in Australia to develop payloads for these satellites. In a similar vein, we have the opportunity to uplift our capability to build those satellites and the supporting applications.110
The Committee notes that recently, the CSIRO acquired a ‘10 per cent tasking and downlink capacity share of the UK-operated NovaSAR-1 satellite’ providing the ‘first opportunity for Australian scientists to directly task and acquire imagery in near-real-time from an EO satellite, for applications ranging from disaster monitoring to land use and land cover mapping.’111

Data applications

Data derived from space underpins our daily lives. Its wide application and capacity to change the way we live presents a significant opportunity for Australia. Geoscience Australia advanced that the applications component of Australia's space industry can and will be a significant driver of industry growth and benefits to the economy:
There are opportunities for new space applications in almost every sector of the economy, the variety of data that's available to power the applications is growing, and the barriers to entry for SMEs are actually lower than in many other parts of the space industry.112

Box 3.3

Through the Gravity Challenge, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (Deloitte) is actively supporting space innovators to navigate the innovation ecosystem.113 The Gravity Challenge is a global technology innovation program for corporates, entrepreneurs and universities to design and build solutions to real industry, social and environmental problems using space data and capability.114
Over a period of nine months, the Gravity Challenge is divided into three phases.115 The ‘Recruitment’ phase involves the recruitment of Challengers and Innovators, and the publishing of the Challenges.116 The ‘Innovate and Accelerate’ phase consists of Innovators working to develop solutions, collaborating with Challengers and data and tech providers.117 The ‘Scale’ phase involves the commercialisation of the solution, with ongoing support from Gravity and data and tech providers.118 Each phase is 12 weeks long.119
Through the program, participants have privileged access to current and over 20 years of historic satellite data from AWS and other satellite data providers.120 They receive mentorship and support from Deloitte and AWS technology and venture building experts.121 In addition, the winning teams have access to a commercialisation strategy and incubation support to help scale the offerings in market.122
Mr Rod Drury, Vice President International, Lockheed Martin Australia highlighted the significant opportunities from processing and using space derived data:
… I also want to acknowledge that a lot of people think of space as being rockets and astronauts, and in fact a significant portion of the space business is all to do with the data that we collect in space. The amount of data that we collect versus what we process is amazing. We process a very small amount and we've got to make more use of that. That's really where a lot of it is—what we would refer to as downstream markets. I think Australia's got great opportunities there.123

Dr Paul Scully-Power made the same point in his evidence to the inquiry:
They are certainly going to be the wealth generators of the future and, just like Apple and Google, it will be the apps applied to those downlinks of data from smart sensors that are going to be where the money is.124
Similarly, Queensland University of Technology noted that space-based data promises to deliver substantial gains for key rural and remote industries, improve our responsiveness to natural disasters and enhance our environmental protection.125
One of the key benefits to developing the applications sector is that the market for space derived applications is ‘global as well as local’. It is often easier to export space applications than some dual-use hardware.126 In addition, supporting space application developers will drive the growth of the entire Australian space industry.127 Geoscience Australia explained:
Growth in this downstream component of the space industry will, in turn, drive demand for the products and services provided across the space value chain including the manufacture of satellite systems and the operation of satellite ground stations. The greater the customer demand for applications that use space data, the greater the demand will be for the space systems that generate that data.128
Swinburne University highlighted the value of space applications and recommended the Australian Government focus on ‘encouraging research and enterprise that has terrestrial application’.129 This includes earth and marine observation data. Professor Alan Duffy told the Committee:
Roughly speaking, about nine-tenths of all of the value, the revenue, the profitability indeed, of the space sector is on that so-called downstream aspect—so where the data from space is used to aid sectors on the ground, and that includes agriculture, marine, fisheries, as well as any number of emergency services. So the intention there really is to ensure that government drives and continues to drive national flagships. These are major game-changing levels of capability. … And I think government has that whole-of-ecosystem, whole-of-industry awareness that can support community involvement and industry engagement, as well as ensure the research organisations are delivering on translatable, commercialisation-ready technologies for those sectors.130
While downstream applications are considered to be the greatest growth area for the space industry, there are current barriers to this sector. This includes:
risks to ongoing access to critical satellite data
ability to assure customers of product quality
support for export of space applications
shortages of local skills in specialist areas
access to innovative space data tailored to local and regional needs.131
A comprehensive list of ways to address these barriers is set out in Box 3.4. It includes developing a targeted suite of small satellites.

Box 3.4

Risks to ongoing access to critical satellite data:
Maintain an open data policy for Australian–supported satellites using public funds, thus encouraging other countries to continue or adopt similar open data policies.
Support and encourage the development of space applications that do not rely solely on data from a single foreign satellite system.
Promote the interoperability of data from different satellite operators, including through ongoing engagement in the multilateral technical fora that establish standards.
Strengthen key international partnerships, including by participating in collaborative satellite development projects that will generate data important for Australia.
Develop a targeted collection of small satellites that help address important data supply vulnerabilities.
Ability to assure customers of product quality:
Establish an ongoing capability that coordinates and promotes the development of a national network of quality assurance facilities for space applications.
Promote the capability to international satellite sensor manufacturers and space applications developers.
Support for export of space applications:
Establish an ongoing program that supports Australian innovators to tailor products and services developed for local markets to meet the needs of export markets.
Establish an initiative to work with likeminded partner countries to ensure there are infrastructures for satellite applications available in priority target markets.
Shortages of local skills in specialist areas:
Explore opportunities to encourage those seeking a career in STEM to enter courses in areas including spatial sciences, geodesy, remote sensing and sensor engineering.
Highlight that such skills will provide opportunities to establish new high-tech digital businesses.
Access to innovative space data tailored to local and regional needs:
Support the establishment of satellite ground stations in Australia’s Antarctic territory, and promote the establishment of a network of ‘space parks’ on the Australian mainland.
Source: Geoscience Australia, Submission 13, pp. 5-6.

Calibration and validation

Australia has world leading expertise and reputation in the calibration and validation (cal/val) of space EO missions. Australian cal/val technology and equipment has played a vital role in securing EO data for the nation from international space agencies.132
FrontierSI identified cal/val as a particular strength and opportunity for Australia. It stated:
Providing calibration and validation as a service offers a significant economic activity and builds on our internationally recognised capabilities. It can attract overseas companies to enter the Australian market and generate new business for those offering these services. Currently, these services are limited in offering within Australia to government and research organisations. Investment in additional calibration and validation research development with the private sector through existing entities such as the SmartSat CRC may provide an opportunity to increase participation, and potentially borrowing from models used in the health sector in which the companies access infrastructure operated by public research institutes and/or government.133
Earth Observation Australia expressed the same view, noting that Australia is uniquely positioned to offer EO satellite cal/val as an essential national and international service due to its geography, landscapes and world-leading expertise.134 It states that this opportunity is currently being missed due to the absence of support to:
establish formal ‘calibration infrastructure’ sites with adequate facilities
cohesively connect cal/val research, practices, and commercial applications in Australia.135
The availability of calibration infrastructure would support Australian research and business and lead to increased engagement of international partners. Professor Boyce, Director, UNSW Canberra Space commented on the lack of cal/val infrastructure and noted that it represents particular opportunities for people in rural and regional Australia:
Australia has calibration and validation locations which are utilised by the rest of the world for calibrating the satellite sensors that deliver the data that we and the rest of the world need. I know that there is need within Australia to formalise the cal/val infrastructure. It's not in the cities.136
International partners have expressed interest in using Australian cal/val sites and experience to calibrate new and existing satellite missions.137 In particular, the United States Geological Survey expressed its support noting that it sees ‘significant value in Australia becoming a global resource for remote sensing cal/val advancements, including the collection of datasets to support those efforts’.138 It stated:
The concept of Australia leading an international effort to develop and promote Cal/Val best practices - with the potential inclusion of a satellite mission designed to support those efforts - would be quite favorably received by those who currently collect, distribute, and utilize space­based remote sensing data. With the proliferation of government and commercial remote sensing capabilities, the need for clear and widely accepted radiometric, geometric, and format/metadata standards and processes are critical in enabling improved interoperability among various datasets.139
Symbiosis Communication suggested that Australian investment could target extending international capabilities (e.g. by contributing complementary instruments), and/or by enhancing utility for Australian users.140 It highlighted the work of Geoscience Australia with the SBAS, improving the quality and utility of GNSS signals for Australian users. Symbiosis Communication suggested the streamlined provision of satellite cal/val via a government facility implemented by Australian industry.141

Off-Earth opportunities

Space is entering a new environment called the ‘off-earth economy’. This includes people going back to the moon, to Mars, and undertaking in-situ resource utilitsation.142 APAC explained:
One of the emerging areas of space activities with the highest economic potential is the extraction and processing of minerals and resources from planetary bodies (Moon, Mars and asteroids). The extraction and processing of resources including carbon-rich minerals and rare earth minerals found in space will be an essential feature of long-term manned presence on the Moon, Mars and more remote space stations such as the Lunar Gateway and is the key to unlock the Off Earth economy around living, working and manufacturing in space.143
APAC argued that Australia should draw on its on-earth capability and skill base – particularly in mineral mining and extraction and remote operations – to maximise these new opportunities.144
Other submitters also drew attention to Australia’s strengths in these areas and have started exploring opportunities. The NSW Government stated:
Current expertise in advanced mining and autonomous mine operations will be a natural fit for organisations undertaking in-situ resource utilisation on space missions, while capability in agriculture and construction in hostile environments have the potential to support future space settlements.145
The NSW Government has signed a memorandum-of-understanding with the Luxembourg Government to support collaboration on the exploration, exploitation and utilisation of space resources. It encourages greater international cooperation in this area.146
Professor Boswell similarly promoted Australia’s expertise in mining, particularly smelting, and agriculture in difficult environments:
There are many challenges in successfully creating and managing a space program, especially a manned mission to the Moon. Australia needs to find a niche where it can really contribute rather than be an “also ran” and a “me too”. We are good with minerals and agriculture and should relish the chance to apply our experience to one of the most challenging environments known.147
Professor Boswell and his team are currently developing a road map to identify and develop on-earth activities that can be applied to a moon habitat.148
While recognising the off-earth potential for Australia, APAC identified the lack of international regulation as a key risk. It stated:
One of the challenges with attracting the necessary investment to develop Off-Earth resource exploitation is that there is currently no agreed international regime for the possession and sale of Off-Earth resources that is essential to protect the investment of mining operators and enable profits. The language and interpretation of the UN Space Treaties are part of the challenge here.149
APAC recommended that Australia should use its position as a country with significant resource extraction expertise and as a signatory of the Moon Agreement to develop an internationally agreed regime to safeguard investments and activities in this area.150
Other opportunities raised in evidence include space tourism; in particular building on Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft which can launch and land from a standard airport runway. The WA Government considers that Western Australia’s proximity to Asia would make it an ‘ideal place’ to set up a southern hemisphere launch location for space tourism and position Australia more generally for sub-orbital flights.151
Shoal also commented on the opportunity presented by space tourism and the development of space ports in Australia. It suggested that Australia could consider the regulatory requirements to support an endeavour and possibly private-public partnerships to develop the necessary infrastructure.152
APAC identified suborbital space flights as a potential opportunity and recommended that the Australian Government position Australia to become an early participant in this future travel system.153
Space Solar Technologies provided information about its technology and investment opportunities. See Box 3.5. It is seeking initial funding from Government to develop this technology and area of investment.154

Box 3.5

Solar Space Technologies is an Australian company, developing a space solar power project in Australia.155 Space solar power involves the gathering of solar energy in space through the design, manufacture and deployment of large satellites.156 This solar energy is then transferred to Earth.157 Space solar power production levels are predictable and systems have the capability to supply large amounts of low cost baseload energy without producing carbon emissions.158
Solar Space Technologies is working with Mankins Space Technology, a USA based company, to generate base-load space solar power in Australia and to export the energy to the region and around the world.159 Space solar power is produced through the use of a solar satellite in geostationary orbit over Australia.160 The satellite collects the solar energy and transmits it as microwaves to a ground based rectenna where it is converted to electricity and transferred to the national electricity grid.161 As the sun is always shining in space, space solar power produces renewable energy 99.8 percent of the time.162
Small World Communications promoted an astronaut program as a possibility for Australia, highlighting the experience of Canada as a potential model.163 The Canadian Space Agency provided robotic arms to NASA’s Space Shuttle and International Space Station and plans to provide an arm for the Lunar Gateway. In exchange, NASA provides seats on its spacecraft and space station for Canadian astronauts.164 Small World Communications contends that Australia can ‘easily afford’ to adopt a similar model by identifying something that a) can be built in Australia, and b) is required by NASA or another space agency for future plans.165
Dr Jason Held, Chief Executive, Saber Astronautics, similarly identified off-earth opportunities for Australia, including an astronaut program. Dr Held told the Committee:
I would also set the conditions for an astronaut program for Australia. If you look 10 years out, and if look at what's happening today in markets that we're not yet playing in—the ability to do advanced manufacturing in space, the ability to do pharmaceuticals and quantum computing are all things we're doing quite nicely here on earth; But, if you do them in space, you get considerable competitive advantages in terms of the quality of product.166
In its submission, Saber Astronautics set out a plan for a public-private Australian astronaut program.167

Adjacent sectors

Multiple industries adjacent to the space sector have capabilities that are transferrable to space.168 In addition to mining, remote operations and agriculture discussed above, other industries include next generation communications, manufacturing, space medicine and human life sciences, and digital mapping.169
Mr Anthony Murfett, Deputy Director of the ASA highlighted the potential of adjacent industries to space. He told the Committee:
There are a whole range of companies out there that just aren't even thinking about space. The mining sector is a really good one. They've got capabilities, and NASA wants them, which is great. So that's one we can transition into. I think as we look at our manufacturing base there are a whole range of others. They're working in defence, they're working in medtech and they're working in agriculture, but those capabilities—if they harden them, they can survive radiation et cetera—could then be applied to space or help us here on the ground. So there's a whole lot of work, and we've only scratched the surface on talking to those companies that aren't even thinking about space.170
The NSW Government noted that adjacent sectors are unaware that they can participate in the space industry and identified a role for government to make these connections: Mr Roland Stephens, Executive Director, Jobs and Industry Development, NSW Government said:
A lot of companies don't know that they're space companies. There are a lot of companies out there that have interesting technologies and applications and they're not aware of the linkages into the space sector or the applications of those in the space sector. We do see part of our role as helping to bring those opportunities to the attention of firms, and that is both regional and metropolitan.171
Engaging adjacent industries is mutually beneficial. While adjacent sectors afford the space industry a source of skills and expertise, the space industry affords adjacent sectors the opportunity to participate in space supply chains, employ highly skilled and technical personnel, and attract new customers.172 It also provides diversification avenues for sectors in decline.173
Saab Australia argued that the narrative around the space industry is dominated by the ‘visible’ elements of the domain; space vehicles and their launch systems.174 To create a more robust space industry, a greater emphasis must be placed on broader systems, including the ground based elements, support systems and infrastructure.175 This includes broader industry engagement to attract those in adjacent sectors. Saab Australia stated:
There will be further opportunities for adjacent and supporting industries as the Australian space domain evolves. By acknowledging that not all contributors to the space capability will be traditional space companies, we will see technology companies diversify into the space domain. This diversification will not only benefit the outcomes for the space domain. It will also provide sustainability for the industry during times of reduced space related activity as these multidimensional companies will be able to better balance their workload across various domains and demand cycles.176
Saab Australia emphasized support for adjacent industries to identify the opportunities that space offers and to translate current capability into one suitable for space.177 It also recommended that a research and development capability stream be established to identify sovereign innovation in adjacent industries, and broader industry engagement with technology and engineering companies, and adjacent industries, to highlight how industry capabilities can be applied more broadly across the space domain.178
Similar themes were raised by the SLCANZ. It argued the ‘continuing need’ to promote space industry related and space industry adjacent sectors.179 These include sectors such as law, finance, insurance, economics and advisor services.
By focusing on these adjacent sectors, the SLCANZ considers that those businesses at the core of Australia’s space industry – e.g. those engaging in international relationships, managing intellectual property ownership, managing compliances with export controls, manufacturing rockets or satellite components, those operating orbital space assets and ground-based space infrastructure – are protected from unnecessary legal, business and financial risks arising out of a lack of understanding or advice.180
Furthermore, a strong space adjacent business sector can play a substantial role in attracting international business, and increase the relevance of the Australian space industry to a broader range of sectors, as well as the current and future workforce.181
The Adelaide Law School expressed the same view. It identified the need to consider the contribution of non-STEM businesses to the Australian space industry, identifying the essential role that these professions play in developing and maintaining the industry. In particular, it noted that:
…the non­STEM industry sectors play an essential role in enabling space-related operations through fundraising, legal and intellectual property advice, and facilitating day-to-day operations.
Greater recognition of non-STEM sectors can also assist the Australian space industry in addressing issues before they arise to avoid small to medium enterprises only engaging with professional advisers when issues presents.182
It encouraged a greater focus on non-STEM industry government initiatives and strategies to support the development of niche specialist advisory capabilities that are capable of being internationally renowned.183

Aerospace medicine

While adjacent space related sectors can transfer capability into the sector, the space industry itself can spill-over into other sectors of the economy. For example, the ASA highlighted that new remote medicine techniques can assist rural medicine, new communication technologies can improve communications on Earth, and advancements in robotics can automate farming practices to help farmers manage their land.184 These spill-over benefits have the potential to generate additional economic activity, productivity and jobs.
The Committee spoke to Dr John Cherry, Director, Australasian Society for Aerospace Medicine and Dr Rowena Christiansen, Founder and Chief Consultant, the Ad Astra Vita Project about aerospace medicine which refers to the application of medicines to support human space flight. Dr Cherry explained to the Committee:
… as international space agencies look to develop longer-duration missions beyond low Earth orbit, the challenges of providing optimal medical care to astronauts increases dramatically. Many of these challenges are similar to the healthcare challenges faced by rural and remote communities across Australia. Access to resources, suitably trained medical staff, accessible and reliable telehealth facilities, and access to suitable medical technologies are common challenges.185
The benefits of Australian expertise in aerospace medicine is two-fold: not only is there an opportunity to work with international partners to support long-duration space flight but these innovations can then be applied to rural and remote communities across Australia to improve their access to quality health care.186Furthermore, lessons learned from health related issues in space can be applied more generally on Earth. Dr Christiansen said:
A lot of the physiological changes which occur in space—for instance, the changes in bone mineral density and muscle strength and bulk—have are a lot of parallels with ageing, and the knowledge that we get from that sort of research can be applied to populations on Earth.187
Dr Christiansen made a series of recommendations to improve the education and training opportunities for Australian doctors to specialise in aerospace medicine.188 These include:
a formal space medicine training pathway for Australian doctors and health professionals which includes access to international agencies and support to develop dedicated programs.
financial support such as FEE-HELP or open scholarships to assist Australians to develop aerospace medicine skills and qualifications, and attend international conferences.
small scale funding packages to support innovative local space health STEM initiatives.
a national space sector opt-in database to showcase Australian capabilities.189
To better facilitate the translational benefits of aerospace medicine, the ASAM recommended the development of an Australian Clinical Research Institute for Space Health to help coordinate space medicine research, training and development.190 Based on NASA’s Translational Research Institute for Space Health, the Australian Institute would be a standalone organisation, funded by the ASA, and designed to promote Australian excellence in the field.191

Committee comment

Australia’s reliance on space, and its reliance on other countries for space highlights the need for Australian to develop sovereign capability. Defining what this means, identifying priority areas for development, and providing the framework to facilitate the growth of Australian-owned and operated businesses will reduce Australia’s vulnerability to loss or restricted access to space based technology and services.
Supporting and maintaining the domestic space industry alone will not be enough to sustain Australian businesses nor contribute to the broader growth of the industry. The Australian space industry will need to export its products and services and connect to global supply chains. Government has an important role to play here. This includes by facilitating partnerships with primes, advocating for Australian businesses in international markets, providing timely and tailored access to funding, and ensuring the policy settings provide confidence to stakeholders to invest.
Ensuring availability and access to necessary space infrastructure to support industry develop, design, test and manufacture technology is also fundamental to developing the domestic industry. There is a need to examine how Australia’s space infrastructure can be incorporated into future national infrastructure plans. The Committee recommends that space be identified as a key infrastructure priority area and that a national audit be undertaken of current and future space infrastructure needs.
Australia can capitalise on its strengths, particularly in downstream activities. Earth observation, space based applications and expertise in calibration and validation present significant strengths that can be leveraged to position Australia in a global market. Opportunities also exist within supporting sectors as specialist space advisory services can be developed for an international market.
The Australian Government recently announced that an Australian made rover be included in a future NASA mission as part of NASA’s Artemis program. This is an exciting and important opportunity for Australia to showcase its off-earth expertise in remote operations and mining. Identifying further international partnership opportunities in the off-earth sector as well as emerging areas should be a focus of Government.
The parallels between rural and remote health care and aerospace medicine was a fascinating area briefly examined during this inquiry. Access to resources and reliable telehealth facilities, properly trained medical staff, and access to medical technologies are common challenges. The dual benefits afforded by aerospace medicine sector highlight the enormous potential of this niche area. The Committee supports efforts to foster its growth.

Recommendation 9

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government define Australian sovereignty as it relates to the development of Australian space capability to ensure that Australia’s space related interests are promoted and protected.

Recommendation 10

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government identify in consultation with the Australian space industry particular national space capabilities that can be designed, built and delivered by industry.

Recommendation 11

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government consider ways to encourage stronger commercially attractive partnerships between global space primes and Australian businesses. These strategies should seek to engage and prioritise those companies that can demonstrate a commitment to growing the Australian space sector.
The Committee recommends that this includes establishing a program to assist SMEs connect with primes and navigate the broader global space industry more generally.

Recommendation 12

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government pursue policy settings that incentivise private sector investment in industry development including such things as matched funding or co-funding, taxation incentives, and public and private partnerships.

Recommendation 13

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government expand support to SMEs to improve connections in global supply chains.
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government streamline access to funding mechanisms and increase efficiency of investment by reducing complexity and enhancing transparency.

Recommendation 14

The Committee recommends that space be identified as a key infrastructure priority area. It recommends a national assessment of Australia’s current and future space infrastructure requirements with particular emphasis on developing sovereign capability in identified areas.
This assessment should acknowledge the need for industry to access a range of infrastructure for research and development, and manufacture. It should build on the preliminary work set out by the SmartSat CRC.
The Committee recommends further consultation with Infrastructure Australia to establish whether it is best placed to undertake this work in consultation with industry.

Recommendation 15

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government, in consultation with industry, examine the requirement to use international standards such as those used by the European Space Agency and NASA for all Commonwealth space procurements.

Recommendation 16

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government develop a specific ABS classification to provide a more accurate picture of the size of the Australian space industry and to help track its value and growth.

Recommendation 17

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government foster the growth of Earth Observation from space and data processing capabilities that benefit Australia across ever sector of the economy.

Recommendation 18

The Committee recommends that the Australia Government identify other off-earth opportunities in partnership with international agencies.
The Committee recommends that consideration be given to developing a mechanism to identify and develop innovative space proposals such space solar power technology in Australia.

Recommendation 19

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government undertake broader industry engagement to:
create awareness in adjacent sectors of opportunities to participate in the Australian space industry
identify relevant skills and expertise within adjacent industries that could be transferable to the Australian space industry
The Committee recommends that the Australian Government better promote and engage non-STEM industries such as law, economics, finance, business and advisory services to ensure that these sectors are well equipped to support and maintain the operation of the Australian space industry and provide a specialist service in an international market.

Recommendation 20

The Committee recommends that the Australian Government examine ways to better support and coordinate space medicine research, training and development to ensure that the translational benefits of aerospace medicine can be applied on Earth.

  • 1
    Queensland Government, Submission 60, Attachment A: ‘Queensland Space Industry Strategy 2020-2025’, p. 8.
  • 2
    Queensland Government, Submission 60, Attachment A: ‘Queensland Space Industry Strategy 2020-2025’, p. 8.
  • 3
    Australian Space Agency (ASA), Submission 55, p. 7.
  • 4
    Asia Pacific Aerospace Consultants (APAC), Submission 76, p. 6.
  • 5
    Gilmour Space Technologies, Submission 59, p.1.
  • 6
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 7.
  • 7
    New South Wales Government, Submission 75, p. 12.
  • 8
    Airbus, Submission 25, p. 4.
  • 9
    Professor Craig Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Space Systems, Electro Optic Systems (EOS), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 1.
  • 10
    Professor Smith, EOS, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 1.
  • 11
    Professor Smith, EOS, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 1.
  • 12
    EOS, Submission 47, p. 7.
  • 13
    ASA, Submission 55, p. 5.
  • 14
    Air Vice-Marshal Neil Hart, AM (Retired), Queensland Defence Advisor for Aerospace, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 6 May 2021, p. 48.
  • 15
    Mr Matthew Opie, Director, Defence and Space, University of South Australia, Committee Hansard, Adelaide, 10 March 2021, p. 23.
  • 16
    Mr Opie, University of South Australia, Committee Hansard, Adelaide, 10 March 2021, p. 23.
  • 17
    Mr Roger Franzen, Director, Earthspace, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 35.
  • 18
    Earthspace, Submission 23, p. 7.
  • 19
    Earthspace, Submission 23, p. 5.
  • 20
    Earthspace, Submission 23, p. 5.
  • 21
    Shoal, Submission 5, p. 13.
  • 22
    Boeing Australia, Submission 80, p. 13.
  • 23
    Mr Martin Rowse, Key Account Manager, Space, Airbus, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 12.
  • 24
    Airbus, Submission 25, p. 6.
  • 25
    Airbus, Submission 25, p. 6.
  • 26
    Mr Gary Dawson, Vice President, Strategy and Communications, Thales Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, p. 1.
  • 27
    Mr Gary Dawson, Vice President, Strategy and Communications, Thales Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, p. 2.
  • 28
    Mr Dawson, Thales Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, p. 2.
  • 29
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 7.
  • 30
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 7.
  • 31
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 7.
  • 32
    Boeing Australia, Submission 80, p. 12.
  • 33
    Boeing Australia, Submission 80, p. 12.
  • 34
    Mr Mark Skidmore, Executive Chair, Skykraft, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, p. 27.
  • 35
    Swinburne University of Technology, Submission 63, p. [4].
  • 36
    Shoal, Submission 5, p. 12.
  • 37
    Moonshot, Submission 58, p. 4.
  • 38
    Moonshot, Submission 58, p. 4.
  • 39
    Mr Troy McCann, Chief Executive Officer, Moonshot, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 26.
  • 40
    Mr Troy McCann, Chief Executive Officer, Moonshot, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 21.
  • 41
    Moonshot, Submission 58, p. 5.
  • 42
    Symbios Communications, Submission 30, p. 3.
  • 43
    Symbios Communications, Submission 30, p. 3.
  • 44
    Symbios Communications, Submission 30, p. 3.
  • 45
    Gilmour Space Technologies, Submission 59, p. 5.
  • 46
    Gilmour Space Technologies, Submission 59, p. 5.
  • 47
    Gilmour Space Technologies, Submission 59, p. 5.
  • 48
    Vocus, Submission 45, pages 1 and 2.
  • 49
    Vocus, Submission 45, p. 3.
  • 50
    South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), Submission 56, p. 8.
  • 51
    South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), Submission 56, p. 8.
  • 52
    Professor Alan Duffy, Director, Space Technology and Industry Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, p. 17.
  • 53
    SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), Submission 29.1, pp. 3-4.
  • 54
    Australian National University (ANU) Institute for Space (InSpace), Submission 18.1, p. 2.
  • 55
    Australian National University (ANU) Institute for Space (InSpace), Submission 18.1, p. 2.
  • 56
    Mr Rod Drury, Vice President International, Lockheed Martin Space, Lockheed Martin Australia, Committee Hansard, Armidale, 20 April 2021, pp. 24-25.
  • 57
    Mr Drury, Lockheed Martin Australia, Committee Hansard, Armidale, 20 April 2021, pp. 24-25.
  • 58
    Earthspace, Submission 23, p. 5.
  • 59
    SASIC, Submission 56, p. 8.
  • 60
    Boswell Technologies, Submission 31, p. 6.
  • 61
    Mr Rod Drury, Vice President International, Lockheed Martin Space, Lockheed Martin Australia, Committee Hansard, Armidale, 20 April 2021, p. 24.
  • 62
    Mr Blake Nikolic, Chief Executive Officer, Black Sky Aerospace, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 6 May 2021, p. 13.
  • 63
    Mr Blake Nikolic, Chief Executive Officer, Black Sky Aerospace, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 6 May 2021, p. 13.
  • 64
    Queensland Government, Submission 60, p. 3.
  • 65
    Infrastructure Australia, Submission 88, p. 1.
  • 66
    Infrastructure Australia, Submission 88, p. 3.
  • 67
    Deloitte, Submission 53, p. 12.
  • 68
    Deloitte, Submission 53, p. 12.
  • 69
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 16.
  • 70
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 16.
  • 71
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 16.
  • 72
    Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), Submission 83, p. 10.
  • 73
    Mr James Brown, Chief Executive Officer, SIAA, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 34.
  • 74
    SIAA, Submission 83, p. 11.
  • 75
    For example, see Dr Dave Williams, Executive Director, Digital, National Facilities and Collections, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 February 2021, pp. 2-3.
  • 76
    Queensland Government, Submission 60, p. 3.
  • 77
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 9.
  • 78
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 9.
  • 79
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, p. 9.
  • 80
    Northrop Grumman Australia, Submission 27, pp. 9-10.
  • 81
    Boeing Australia, Submission 80, p. 9.
  • 82
    Shoal, Submission 5.2, p. 7.
  • 83
    Mr Enrico Palermo, Head of Agency, ASA, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, p. 29.
  • 84
    Earth Observation Australia (EOA), Submission 21, p. 4.
  • 85
    Deloitte, Submission 53, pp. 4-5.
  • 86
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 7.
  • 87
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 7.
  • 88
    Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Submission 11, p. 5.
  • 89
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 5.
  • 90
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 5.
  • 91
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 5.
  • 92
    Dr Alex Held, Director, Centre for Earth Observation, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 February 2021, p. 7.
  • 93
    Dr Alex Held, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 February 2021, p. 8.
  • 94
    Dr Alex Held, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 February 2021, p. 8.
  • 95
    Dr Alex Held, CSIRO, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 February 2021, p. 8.
  • 96
    The World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40 is a reciprocal agreement by which countries around the world agree to share meteorological observations and data – Dr Peter Stone, Group Executive, Business Solutions, Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), Committee Hansard, Canberra, 24 March 2021, p. 2.
  • 97
    BoM, Submission 74, p. 2.
  • 98
    BoM, Submission 74, p. 3.
  • 99
    BoM, Submission 74, p. 2; BoM, Submission 74.1, p. 5.
  • 100
    BoM, Submission 74, p. 5.
  • 101
    Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience Initiative, Submission 87, p. 2.
  • 102
    Minderoo Foundation Fire and Flood Resilience Initiative, Submission 87, p. 4.
  • 103
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 13.
  • 104
    Mr Tim Neale, Managing Director, DataFarming, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 6 May 2021, p. 38.
  • 105
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 13.
  • 106
    Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), Submission 79, p. 1.
  • 107
    Professor Stuart Phinn, President, EOA, Committee Hansard, Brisbane, 6 May 2021, pp. 29-30.
  • 108
    Swinburne University of Technology, Submission 63, p. [3].
  • 109
    Professor Duffy, Swinburne University of Technology, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, p. 17.
  • 110
    Mr Palermo, ASA, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, p. 29.
  • 111
    CSIRO, Submission 11, p. 6.
  • 112
    Dr Martine Woolf, Branch Head, National Positioning Infrastructure, Geoscience Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 17 March 2021, p. 1.
  • 113
    Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Submission 53, p. [5].
  • 114
    Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Submission 53, p. [5].
  • 115
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, Answer to Question on Notice, p. [10].
  • 116
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 117
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 118
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 119
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 120
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 121
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 122
    SmartSat CRC, Submission 29.1, p. [10].
  • 123
    Mr Rod Drury, Lockheed Martin Australia, Committee Hansard, Armidale, 20 April 2021, p. 24.
  • 124
    Dr Paul Scully-Power, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 3.
  • 125
    Queensland University of Technology, Submission 7, p. 2.
  • 126
    Dr Martine Woolf, Branch Head, National Positioning Infrastructure, Geoscience Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 17 March 2021, p. 1.
  • 127
    Dr Martine Woolf, Branch Head, National Positioning Infrastructure, Geoscience Australia, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 17 March 2021, p. 2.
  • 128
    Geoscience Australia, Submission 13, p. 5.
  • 129
    Swinburne University of Technology, Submission 63, p. 5.
  • 130
    Professor Alan Duffy, Director, Space Technology and Industry Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 16 September 2021, pages 16 and 17.
  • 131
    Geoscience Australia, Submission 13, p. 5.
  • 132
    EOA, Submission 21, p. 7.
  • 133
    FrontierSI, Submission 38, p. [3].
  • 134
    EOA, Submission 21, pp. 7-8.
  • 135
    EOA, Submission 21, pp. 7-8.
  • 136
    Professor Russell Boyce, Director, University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra Space, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 12 May 2021, p. 5.
  • 137
    EOA, Submission 21, pp. 7-8.
  • 138
    United States Geological Survey, Submission 71, p. 2.
  • 139
    United States Geological Survey, Submission 71, p. 2.
  • 140
    Symbios Communications, Submission 30, p. 3.
  • 141
    Symbios Communications, Submission 30, p. 3.
  • 142
    Mr Kirby Ikin, Managing Director, APAC, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 39.
  • 143
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 13.
  • 144
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 14.
  • 145
    NSW Government, Submission 75, p. 14.
  • 146
    NSW Government, Submission 75, pages 14 and 15.
  • 147
    Boswell Technologies, Submission 31, p. 6; Professor Rod Boswell, Chief Executive Officer, Boswell Technologies, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 26 February 2021, pp. 41-42.
  • 148
    Boswell Technologies, Submission 31, p. 6
  • 149
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 14.
  • 150
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 15.
  • 151
    Western Australian Government, Submission 61, p. 7.
  • 152
    Shoal, Submission 5.2, p. 8.
  • 153
    APAC, Submission 76, p. 15.
  • 154
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 17.
  • 155
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 3.
  • 156
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 3.
  • 157
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 3.
  • 158
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 3.
  • 159
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 4.
  • 160
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 6.
  • 161
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 6.
  • 162
    Solar Space Technologies, Submission 15, p. 6.
  • 163
    Small World Communications, Submission 4, p. 3.
  • 164
    Small World Communications, Submission 4, p. 3.
  • 165
    Small World Communications, Submission 4, pp. 2-3.
  • 166
    Dr Jason Held, Chief Executive Officer, Saber Astronautics, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 13.
  • 167
    Saber Astronautics, Submission 84, p. [5].
  • 168
    ASA, Submission 55, pp. 8-9.
  • 169
    ASA, Submission 55, pp. 8-9.
  • 170
    Mr Anthony Murfett, Deputy Head, ASA, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 17 February 2021, p. 6.
  • 171
    Mr Roland Stephens, Executive Director, Jobs and Industry Development, NSW Government, Committee Hansard, Sydney, 19 April 2021, p. 50.
  • 172
    ASA, Submission 55, p. 5.
  • 173
    ASA, Submission 55, p. 8.
  • 174
    Saab Australia, Submission 12, p. [1].
  • 175
    Saab Australia, Submission 12, p. [1].
  • 176
    Saab Australia, Submission 12, p. [3].
  • 177
    Saab Australia, Submission 12, p. [3].
  • 178
    Saab Australia, Submission 12, p. [2].
  • 179
    Space Law Council of Australia and New Zealand (SLCANZ), Submission 14, p. 4.
  • 180
    SLCANZ, Submission 14, p. 4.
  • 181
    SLCANZ, Submission 14, p. 4.
  • 182
    The Adelaide Law School (University of Adelaide), Submission 16, p. [8].
  • 183
    The Adelaide Law School (University of Adelaide), Submission 16, p. [8].
  • 184
    ASA, Submission 55, p. 5.
  • 185
    Dr John Cherry, Company Director, Australasian Society for Aerospace Medicine, and Chair, Space Life Sciences Committee, Australasian Society for Aerospace Medicine, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, p. 14.
  • 186
    Dr Cherry, Australasian Society for Aerospace Medicine, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, p. 14. Also see the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine, Submission 20, pp. 2-3.
  • 187
    Dr Rowena Christiansen, Founder and Chief Consultant, The Ad Astra Vita Project, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, pp. 19-20.
  • 188
    The Ad Astra Vita Project, Submission 68.
  • 189
    Dr Christiansen, The Ad Astra Vita Project, Committee Hansard, Canberra, 20 September 2021, pp. 14-15. Also see The Ad Astra Vita Project, Submission 68.
  • 190
    Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine, Submission 20, p. 4.
  • 191
    Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine, Submission 20, p. 4.

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