Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the Federal Government will spend $150 million dollars for Australia to get involved in the US missions to the moon and Mars.
The announcement was made as Mr Morrison toured NASA’s Washington DC headquarters.
The Australian Space Agency also signed a joint statement of intent with NASA for the two organisations to work together.
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The funding will help Australian businesses and researchers position themselves to take advantage of the new deal with NASA.
“We’re backing Australian businesses to the moon – and even Mars – and back,” Mr Morrison said.
“We’ve partnered with the US in almost all of their missions to space for the last 60 years and this investment paves the way for the next 60.
“The growing amount of space sector work and innovation will also inspire the next generation to see the future of a career in these fields for the long term.”
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews says Australia has plenty to offer.
“In Australia we already have some terrific space capability and there are some fantastic things we’re doing in the mining sector that have great application to the space sector,” Ms Andrews told reporters on the Gold Coast.
“For example, many of the mine sites, particularly in the Pilbara region are operated from Perth which is about 1600 kilometres away.
“So this gives us the opportunity to talk to NASA about the technology we already have in Australia and how that can be used for future missions, particularly Moon to Mars.”
Australia’s first astronaut Andy Thomas was among those who joined the Prime Minister at NASA’s headquarters for the announcement.
He says it’s fantastic that Australia is taking a greater role in the space race.
“I always had it as an aspirational hope but I never thought it was going to happen, there just didn’t seem to be a political will to do it 20 years ago, but now there is.
“I think with the formation of the Australian Space Agency, the people of Australia are behind and excited by the prospect of Australia participating in these great adventures.”
Australia’s space industry is currently worth about $4 billion and employs around 10,000 people.
The Government has committed to growing that to $12 billion with an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.