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Australia a step closer to establishing its own space agency

The Australian space industry is set to receive a boost as the government pushes forward its plans to establish a national space agency, announced by the government in September  last year, in a bid to coordinate existing efforts in the aeronautical industry and create jobs.

Ahead of the 2018 federal Budget being delivered next Tuesday, the ABC has reported  that the Australian government will be injecting $50 million as seed funding into establishing a national space agency.

While the ABC said the government is yet to decide where the new space agency will be hosted, the reported flagged Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory as all having expressed interest in claiming the headquarters.

The Australian government had revealed in September that it would be establishing a national space agency once its review into the space industry was complete.

In March this year, the review panel, headed by former CSIRO chief Megan Clark, submitted results from its extensive review to the government, which was designed to give the government a clear picture to how the country’s first sovereign space agency will take shape.

The expert panel received almost 200 written submissions in response to its issues paper, and more than 400 people were consulted through roundtables in each state and territory. The government is expected to announce the results from the review in a few weeks’ time.

According to ABC, panel head Megan Clark will also be appointed to head the new agency for its first year.

On the international stage, the Australian Government’s space expenditure (A$26.3 million) has previously been tiny compared to the amounts available to NASA in the US, Russia’s Roscosmos, and the European Space Agency (ESA), which all boast multi-billion dollar budgets.

The ABC has confirmed the budget will also have a focus on improving the global positioning system (GPS) technology which can be used for mapping, aviation and broad-scale farming projects.

Australia is currently leading a trial for use of advanced satellite positioning to guide aeroplanes, to make regional aviation safer and more efficient.

The project is looking at the benefits of Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) technology and will help Australia take a first step to joining countries such as the United States, Europe, China, Russia, India and Japan, which are already using SBAS technology.

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