The Science Party space policy is to:

  • Support and develop the Australian Space Agency; and
  • Accept the invitation from the European Space Agency to become an associate member; and
  • Introduce regulations that encourage the building and development of space infrastructure in Australia; and
  • Undertake a Space Innovation and Growth Strategy Study.

1. Strengthen our space agency

1.1. Policy: Upgrade the Australian Space Agency to ASTRA (Australian Space Technology & Research Agency), an organisation with the following aims and activities:

  • Accepting the invitation from the European Space Agency (ESA) to become an associate member;
  • Extending the responsibilities of the agency to include research, development, education and promotion of an Australian space industry;
  • Developing a strong, internationally recognised, Australian space expertise and capability;
  • Creating partnerships with Australian and international government stakeholders such as NASA, CSA, ESA and JAXA;
  • Capitalising on educational and community engagement opportunities;
  • Facilitating further research into space and space-based technologies;
  • Developing space policy and legal refinements and initiatives to support the goals of the agency and international partner organisations;
  • Facilitating discussions and planning on joint operations with regional organisations (e.g. NZSA); and
  • Working towards forming a joint space agency with NZSA to increase efficiencies and localise supply chains to support rapid growth for space based industries in the region.

1.2. Discussion: Space provides exciting opportunities for advancing humanity. Technological development in space research and related fields has provided new technology in communication, transportation, energy, physics and biology. Some of these technologies are used regularly by people all over the world.

Australia needs to move from a Letter of Intent and formally commit to becoming an associate member of the ESA, in order to unlock the benefits of associate membership. Canada, for instance, is an associate member and receives an equal return or greater for every dollar they contribute to the ESA, in part due to preferential access to contracts relating to their work in this field. This is in addition to contracts and projects from other space agencies, like NASA, and those in our region. The Japanese Space Exploration Agency (JAXA) in particular presents outstanding growth and innovation opportunities for Australia.

Australia has the potential to be not only a user of space technologies, but a hub of space investment and technological development. Australia provides an opportunity for niche markets to be developed and contribute to the international space industry.

2. Incentivise Australian space infrastructure

2.1. Policy: Introduce regulations that encourage the building and development of space infrastructure in Australia.

2.2. Discussion: Due to recent technological developments in the space industry, the conditions are ideal for the development of Australian space infrastructure, such as a Spaceport. Reusable launch vehicles, nanosatellites and other emerging research show that commercialisation in the space industry would benefit greatly from Australia's unique location and contribution.

Currently our nation spends billions of dollars on space goods and services—we pay full price, as a retail customer. By entering the space supply chain, we can move to a wholesale exchange of products and services, benefiting the economy and employment. Australia currently has no mechanism to maximise the commercial return from our industry research and we lack a sufficiently funded agency to build a viable space industry. Investigating the commercial, environmental and defence feasibility of the construction (or reactivation) and operation of space launch facilities on Australian territory should be a priority.

3. Define a strategy

3.1. Policy: Undertake a Space Innovation and Growth Strategy Study.

One of the first activities of ASTRA will be to undertake a Space Innovation and Growth Strategy Study. This study would be a joint Australian government-industry initiative to define a clear 20-year vision and strategy for the future growth of the Australian space industry.

It will:

  • Establish a target for Australia to capture three per cent of the global space market within 10 years;
  • Consolidate results of studies already conducted under the Australian Government Space Coordination Committee, the Space Industry Association of Australia and the current review of the 1998 Space Activities Act;
  • Define a clear vision and set achievable goals for the industry;
  • Enable Australia to develop a strong space industry, and offset the risks of depending primarily on foreign space capabilities;
  • Position Australians to solve major scientific and technological problems;
  • Actively nurture, coordinate, and manage Australia's investment in space science;
  • Leverage increased public investment in space science; and
  • Provide government, community and business with information to guide investment in space science and technology. Assessment should include mining in space and sovereign launch capability.

3.2. Discussion: According to the 2015 Space Report, the global space economy grew by 9% in 2014 reaching a total worldwide revenue of AU$430 billion. This is expected to grow to AU$1 trillion over the next 20 years. The Australian space industry generated about AU$4 billion in revenue in 2015, or just under 1% of the existing world market.

A viable space industry is fundamental to developing the smart technology industries that will take Australia into the future. Australia should be a place that is known for not only its innovation with existing space-based technologies but also an innovator in the field and a provider of world class facilities and programs.