Curtin University Vice-Chancellor echoes calls for an Australian space agency


WA Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds and CSIRO Head of WA Observatory Operations Astronomy and Space Science Kevin Ferguson.
WA Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds and CSIRO Head of WA Observatory Operations Astronomy and Space Science Kevin Ferguson.

CURTIN University’s Vice-Chancellor says the nation needs a cohesive approach to its considerable space-research portfolio.

Her comments came in the wake of calls by Riverton MLA Mike Nahan and Senator Linda Reynolds for a space agency in Australia.

“Curtin University has significant capability in space-related research and is a key contributor to research in this field both in Australia and internationally,” Professor Deborah Terry said.

“Australian research institutions and our collaborative partners have world-class expertise and capabilities in space-related research, and these foundations are of great value to Australia’s strategic positioning in the region.

“Moreover, the translation of space-research outputs into other research and industrial applications presents massive opportunities for the Australian and state governments, research institutions, and industry and commercial partners.

“However, Australia needs a cohesive, comprehensive and long-term strategic approach to co-ordinate and support the nation’s already considerable space-research portfolio, and this may include the establishment of a national space agency.”

Senator Reynolds said WA was already home to a wide variety of civilian and Defence space facilities and would soon co-host the world’s most powerful telescope, the Square Kilometre Array.

Dr Nahan said WA’s workforce had a strong presence in the space sector, with the potential to expand.

“A 2015 independent report commissioned by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science found that WA was the third-largest employer in the Australian space industry, although this didn’t include government employees or those engaged by foreign organisations,” Dr Nahan said.

He said WA’s geographic position combined with its abundance of remote areas made it an attractive location for major space projects.

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