WA should host space agency: Libs

The West Australian - - NEWS - Nick Evans Can­berra

Aus­tralia should have a space agency and WA should be its home, ac­cord­ing to Lib­eral sen­a­tor Linda Reynolds and State Op­po­si­tion Leader Mike Na­han.

The pair have called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to es­tab­lish an Aus­tralian equiv­a­lent of NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory in Cal­i­for­nia, which spends about $2 bil­lion a year de­vel­op­ing the rock­etry and ro­botic tech­nol­ogy used by NASA in the Mars Rover pro­gram and to ex­plore the rest of the so­lar sys­tem.

They made the case in a joint sub­mis­sion to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s re­view of Aus­tralia’s space in­dus­try ca­pa­bil­ity launched by In­dus­try, In­no­va­tion and Sci­ence Min­is­ter Arthur Sin­odi­nos last month.

WA has eight of the nine space in­dus­try fa­cil­i­ties iden­ti­fied as crit­i­cal in the re­view’s is­sues pa­per, ac­cord­ing to the sub­mis­sion, and will soon host the Aus­tralian el­e­ment of the world’s most pow­er­ful ra­dio te­le­scope, the Square Kilo­me­tre Ar­ray.

The State is al­ready a go-to des­ti­na­tion for re­searchers ahead of the project’s con­struc­tion, as WA will be home to fa­cil­i­ties to process some of the vast amounts of data the ar­ray will col­lect.

Sen­a­tor Reynolds said the ex­per­tise al­ready in WA meant Curtin Univer­sity and the Univer­sity of WA could form the nu­cleus of a lo­cal ri­val for NASA’s Jet Propul­sion Lab, a gov­ern­ment-funded research and de­vel­op­ment fa­cil­ity run by the Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

Dr Na­han said WA had the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of low pop­u­la­tion den­sity, min­i­mal elec­tro­mag­netic in­ter­fer­ence and high air qual­ity, mak­ing it the ideal lo­ca­tion for the sen­si­tive elec­tronic mea­sur­ing de­vices needed for space projects.

“WA’s ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing and fab­ri­ca­tion in­dus­tries also have the po­ten­tial to con­trib­ute to a grow­ing na­tional space in­dus­try,” he said.

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