Australia's next government budget may set aside $50 million for the foundation of its first space agency. News out of Australia says that this is just the initial investment into the space agency with a majority of the budget coming from the private sector.
Australia is showing that it's not too late to start a space agency.
Australia's First Space Agency
Australia has been making noise about starting a space agency since September 2017 when acting science minister Michaelia Cash said it was crucial for the country to start one. The aim is to be able to get a foot in the growing space industry. This could help generate thousands of future jobs.
It was reported that Megan Clark will lead the space agency by ABC. Clark was the former head of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. She also recently completed a review of Australia's space sector.
Australia's closest neighbor, New Zealand, announced that it would start its own space agency in 2016. This move left Australia as one of two developed without a space agency yet. One of the factors pushing countries to start space agencies is the economic benefits of having one. Having a space agency can lead to more jobs in the job market.
Focus Of The Space Agency
Speaking to The Guardian, astrophysicist Alan Duffy from Swinburne University said that the agency wouldn't be putting people into space. Instead, it would focus on research and economic development. Duffy cites the worth of the worldwide space industry at around $420 billion, which is reason enough for Australia to jump into the space sector to avoid missing out on the money.
One of the major areas of focus for the space agency will be improving GPS technology. It could be used for mapping, aviation, and broad-scale farming projects. Duffy said that having a space agency is crucial to understanding GPS technology.
This space agency would also allow for Australian talent to stay at home rather than go overseas to find opportunities. Associate professor David Ottaway from the University of Adelaide said that many of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics graduates need to leave the country but that this could change that.
There still hasn't been a site announced for where the space program will be located. ABC says that the states of Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory have expressed interest in hosting the space program.