Space Industry – seven key segments

We have a new Australian Space Agency. Now it’s time for industry to capitalise.

Establishment of the new Australian Space Agency is an excellent step in support of our national space industry. Growth in the number and size of Australian businesses within this sector will produce thousands of new, high-value jobs of the future and the great news is that there will be opportunities for all kinds of businesses and workers.

Seven key segments

Drawing from our international experience supporting the space industry, we have identified seven key segments for industry to invest in capability and capacity.

  1. Launch services: getting Australian assets into space will require access to launch services, either domestically-based or through contracts with international launch providers. Northern Australia offers efficient access to the valuable equatorial orbit and companies such as Equatorial Launch Australia are well-advanced in pursuing their proposal for an Arnhem Space Centre.
  2. Space Vehicle Manufacture: this includes the launch vehicle or ‘rocket’, rover-type surface vehicles and robot probes.
  3. Operations: all elements of mission control – including post launch control of space vehicles, in-space operations and recovery (return to earth) operations.
  4. End User Services: this is where we will start to see day-to-day benefits in communications, media, earth observation and automation of industrial activities in remote areas.
  5. Ground: assets in space need ground stations for the exchange of signals, instructions and other data. The geographic location of ground stations is important – both the latitudinal and longitudinal placement on earth and proximity to relatively clean airspace – meaning these assets will likely drive creation of new maintenance and operational jobs in regional areas.
  6. Data Analysis and Distribution: mass accumulation of data from space will provide countless opportunities for collection, storage and analysis. Future benefits will include better environmental management, natural disaster response, transport management and smart city operations.
  7. Non-Space Assets: aside from true ‘space’ activities, there will also be new ways of achieving the sort of outcomes that could previously only have been achieved with expensive and large scale space missions. These include:
    • High altitude aircraft such as drones and balloons will be able to replicate or replace some traditional space-based activities such as satellite imagery at lower cost without compromising quality.
    • Fixed sensing collectors: Sensors attached to fixed points such as buildings can help build out the network of data collection and distribution points.
    • Personal mobile devices: smart phones, watches, vehicle telemetric devices and GPS-enabled sporting equipment can all potentially augment space-based collection and distribution in the future.
Implication for business

With such a diverse range of opportunities, now is certainly the time for Australian businesses to think about where and how they will participate. Many of our traditional industrial players will find they can adapt and contribute to a new national effort – from specialised manufacture to launch and recovery; data analysis to ground-based mission control.

The Australian Government has kicked things off with the new Australian Space Agency, and the agency is ready to help address gaps in the policy and regulatory framework. Now it is time for business to cooperate, to collaborate, to invest for the future and to help deliver the next big thing in the Australian economy.

Exponential growth in the Australian space industry is just over the horizon. Are you on board?

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