Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Australia is one of only two OECD nations that does not yet have a space agency.

According to the Space Industry Association of Australia, Australia is one of only two OECD countries that does not currently have a national space agency. Australia accounts for around 0.8 percent of the global space market, but is aiming to reach 1.8 percent in the future, so that its share matches Australia’s share of global GDP. While the Australian space industry has grown at a rate of approximately 10 percent annually over the past two decades and is estimated to be worth $3 billion ($4 billion Australian) a year, there is a growing need to establish a coordinated national strategy in the aeronautics industry in order to accelerate growth and boost Australia’s global competitiveness.

In response, the Australian federal government announced in July 2017 that it had selected an expert panel to conduct an official Review of Australia's Space Industry Capability. The purpose of the review was to examine Australia’s current capability and to provide policy and funding recommendations to support Australia’s growing space industry. The review was also intended to ensure that Australia develops a regulatory environment that encourages international collaboration and fosters the development of future relationships with major international partners.

Guided by this review and an extensive consultation process, in September 2017 the government committed to establishing a dedicated Australian Space Agency to act as an “anchor for domestic coordination and the front door for international engagement.” While the agency’s charter and location are still to be finalized, the government announced $31 million ($41 million Australian) of initial funding for the industry in the 2018-2019 federal budget.

Establishing a national space agency will provide more opportunities for international cooperation between Australian and Wisconsin organizations by assisting the Australian aeronautics industry to:

  • develop new collaborative partnerships, networks and agency-to-agency agreements with major international partners;
  • consolidate existing cooperation with international space agencies through agreements such as the US-Australia Space Tracking Treaty signed with NASA in October 2017; and
  • foster knowledge sharing and research partnerships between leading Australian space research institutes (e.g. the University of NSW Defence Research Institute established in 2018) and international universities.

The Australian Space Industry Capability Review (p. 12) identified some areas where Australia currently has weaknesses. These areas may present the most opportunity for Wisconsin exporters, and include:

  • low-orbit satellites and related services;
  • design of instrumentation and sensors;
  • design, testing and manufacture of small satellites;
  • optical communications;
  • tracking of space debris;
  • robotics;
  • integration of space-sourced data into ground-based applications;
  • big data analysis; and
  • on-board data processing and launch services.

Wisconsin exporters interested in forming partnerships in the Australian aeronautics industry are encouraged to: