Australia Launches its Own National Space Agency

Monday, 25 September 2017 - 7:24PM
Monday, 25 September 2017 - 7:24PM
Australia Launches its Own National Space Agency
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America, China, Russia, etc. might need to make room outside the Earth's atmosphere, because the Aussies plan to head out soon.

In anticipation of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), the Australian government has announced plans to form a national space agency for the country, which will further Australia's interests across the stars, as well as providing a liaison for other national space agencies and commercial companies that will be dealing increasingly in space travel, exploration, and research.

The specifics of the agency were formally explained at the IAC by Australia's education secretary, Simon Birmingham, who spoke publicly about Australia's plans to engage with the wider spacefaring community:

Opening quote
"This agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement with so many of you across the world's space industries... It's very much the regulatory and coordination role and then, hopefully, a vehicle for growth."
Closing quote

A large part of the reason for Australia's space agency plans seemingly come from the growing business in Earth's orbits, as an increasing number of commercial companies look to space travel as a viable business avenue. Private companies and national bodies alike are interested in establishing a permanent lunar base, and setting up supply lines and communications infrastructure that will allow greater cooperation across the entire process of colonizing our planet's largest natural satellite.

Birmingham's press statement specifically mentions concerns from members of the Australian government who feel that if the country doesn't act quickly to establish communication channels and regulations, they may end up being left behind by the global market's increasing interest in extra-terrestrial travel.

Most galling of all, according to Birmingham, is the fact that New Zealand already has infrastructure to deal with space commerce. Yes, this is a game of one-upsmanship, but in Australia's defense, they've been playing this game with their Kiwi neighbors for a very long time now.

Australia's decision to throw their hat into the orbital ring is likely to be mirrored by plenty of other countries that currently don't have space agencies - in the near future, it'll be hugely important for a nation to have an answer to the question of space, and those who drag their feet on this risk getting left behind.

For those of us who've always dreamed of the not-to-distant-future where space travel is a workaday activity, this is good news. Even if it probably does mean that there'll be some kind of incredibly annoying space tax implemented in the coming years.
Science News