Sig­nal for WA to win space race

Midwest Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Re­ports the WA Gov­ern­ment is push­ing for the State to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in de­vel­op­ing an Aus­tralian space agency have been wel­comed by WA Lib­eral Senator Linda Reynolds.

Senator Reynolds said the pres­ence of the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray tele­scope near Murchi­son Set­tle­ment and other astro­nom­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties meant the agency should be based in WA.

She said she made the case with WA Op­po­si­tion Leader Dr Mike Na­han that WA was a sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor to Aus­tralia’s space in­dus­try ca­pa­bil­ity, in a joint sub­mis­sion to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment re­view in Au­gust.

Ac­cord­ing to Senator Reynolds, their rec­om­men­da­tions in­cluded es­tab­lish­ing an Aus­tralian space agency based on the UK space agency model, in­cor­po­rat­ing as­pects of NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory.

Senator Reynolds said she would con­tinue to work with lo­cal uni­ver­si­ties, Dr Na­han and the Com­mon­wealth to ad­vance plans for WA to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in sup­port­ing and grow­ing a na­tional space ca­pa­bil­ity.

“WA is al­ready home to a wide va­ri­ety of civil­ian and de­fence space fa­cil­i­ties and will soon co­host the world’s most pow­er­ful tele­scope, the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray,” she said.

“It’s a wel­come ad­di­tion to ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, which in­clude the Murchi­son Wide­field Ar­ray, Desert Fire­ball Net­work, the Euro­pean Space Agency’s Deep Space An­tenna, Perth In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Cen­tre, West Aus­tralian Space Cen­tre and Lear­month So­lar Ob­ser­va­tory.

“Sig­nif­i­cant space-re­lated re­search and tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment is be­ing un­der­taken by Curtin Univer­sity and Univer­sity of West­ern Aus­tralia, which have joined forces to form the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre for Ra­dio As­tron­omy Re­search.”

Senator Reynolds said WA’s work­force had a strong pres­ence in the space sec­tor, with the po­ten­tial to ex­pand, as well as a geo­graphic po­si­tion that made it an at­trac­tive lo­ca­tion for big space projects.

“WA has an abun­dance of re­mote ar­eas,” she said.

“Much of the State pos­sesses the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of low pop­u­la­tion den­sity, min­i­mal elec­tro­mag­netic in­ter­fer­ence and high air qual­ity.

“This cre­ates ideal con­di­tions for ra­dio an­ten­nae, tele­scopes and other sen­si­tive elec­tronic mea­sur­ing de­vices nec­es­sary for both civil­ian and de­fence space projects.”

Last week, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would cre­ate an

Aus­tralian space agency, which it said would gen­er­ate thou­sands of jobs and tap into a $420 bil­lion global space in­dus­try.

WA Science Min­is­ter Dave Kelly said Fri­day’s visit by the Euro­pean Space Agency’s direc­tor-gen­eral to his agency’s ground sta­tion high­lighted WA’s po­ten­tial to be the home of the pro­posed Aus­tralian space agency.

“West­ern Aus­tralia has been in­volved in the space in­dus­try for nearly 60 years and we be­lieve WA is the per­fect fit to be the home of the pro­posed na­tional space agency,” he said.

“A space agency would build on our strong ca­pa­bil­i­ties in ar­eas such as ra­dio as­tron­omy, re­mote sens­ing and big data man­age­ment and our grow­ing in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion.”

Mr Kelly said WA al­ready had re­la­tion­ships with global space agen­cies such as NASA, ESA and Ja­pan’s na­tional space agency, which the State and na­tion could use to strate­gic ad­van­tage.

“The de­vel­op­ment of WA’s space in­dus­try links with other ini­tia­tives of the McGowan Gov­ern­ment, such as the State STEM Strat­egy, which will help di­ver­sify our econ­omy and cre­ate jobs of the fu­ture,” he said.

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