The Australian Capital Territory and South Australia sign MoU to develop space industry

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Image courtesy of NASA.

Today, the governments of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the state of South Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop the space industry in Australia.

The catalyst behind this MoU, according to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, was the country’s “Defence White Paper’s commitment to strengthening Australian Defence Force capability in all aspects of space, including secure satellite communications, earth observation, space situation awareness and global navigation satellite systems.”

Both Barr and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherhill believe their jurisdictions each offer unique strengths, and can complement each other in developing Australia’s growing space industry.

ACT is home to some of the world’s leading space-related enterprises, such as EOS Space Systems, Geospatial Intelligence and Northrop Grumman. It is also where the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is located, which has been used to track the Apollo Lunar Module, as well as NASA’s missions to Mars.

South Australia, meanwhile, has a flourishing space startup industry, with award-winning Newspace companies such as Neumann Space, Myriota and Fleet Space.

Previously, both Barr and Weatherhill had written to the Australian Prime Minister asking the federal government to lead the development of the space industry. Following a lukewarm response, South Australia had expressed the possibility of independently staring a space agency for the state.

This MoU comes slightly more than a month after the federal government announced the setting up of an Expert Review Group to what the Australian space industry needs. It also comes approximately a month before the International Astronautical Congress opens in Adelaide, South Australia, on 25 September, which Weatherhill and Barr are looking forward to attending.

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