Australia has lagged behind other advanced nations in the lucrative space agency business.
Australia has lagged behind other advanced nations in the lucrative space agency business. ESA/CNES/ARIANESPACE/S MARTIN

Space industry gets booster

A FEDERAL Government review will examine the feasibility of an Australian space agency, boosting the nation into an international club of above sky-high economies.

Most developed nations have space agencies to co-ordinate their research, communications and exploration efforts in what has become a global $420billion industry.

Even New Zealand now has a slice of that pie.

Australia, despite having been at the forefront of early rocket and space developments, has lagged. It is one of just two OECD nations without a space agency.

"This is really a way to bring the whole issue to a head,” Industry Minister Arthur Sinodinos said in a statement announcing the review.

"This is really about how do we set the scene for developing a space industry in Australia. And in that context, what role changed governance arrangements could play, including possib- ly the role of a space agency.”

The review will be guided by a panel of experts chaired by former CSIRO head Dr Megan Clark. It is due to report by March next year.

The government says the space industry has grown at an average of 10% every year since the late 1990s, as rockets get more reliable and payloads smaller and lighter.

A dedicated, cohesive space program would provide a strong platform for international collaboration.

"There are a lot of ways we do work in the space sector already, this is about building on those opportunities,” Sen Sinodinos said.

"We want to have industry here that can command a premium because they've got a competitive advantage.”

The experts meet for the first time next week.

Dr Tim Parsons of Delta-V Space Alliance told Sky News: 'I'm very excited about the timing, I'm very excited about the vote of confidence in the industry.

'It's been estimated in Canada for example, each dollar that their space station spends, generates between seven and eleven dollars.”