Signal for WA to win space race
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.