Australia should build, launch and operate a range of satellites to reduce sovereign risk, according to a new report from the prestigious Australian Academy of Science.
The Australia in Space: a decadal plan for Australian space science 2021–2030 report released today said Australia’s complete reliance on data from foreign-owned satellites in weather forecasting, resource and water management, and disaster response poses significant risk.
According to the academy: “There is no guarantee these data will always be readily available, optimal, or meet specific and evolving needs for Australia’s essential industries, defence, government, and everyday living.
“Earth observation (EO) data and the services derived from it are also essential for activities such as measuring and mitigating climate change and maintaining and improving food and energy production and distribution, and mapping land use, all of which contribute to sustainable economic growth and particular capability requirements for defence.”
The academy called for a stronger investment in a home-grown Earth observation satellite program, which would design, build, launch and operate the satellites and the sensors on-board used to collect a wide range of data types.
The chair of the working group that developed the report, Emeritus Professor Fred Menk said: “Meeting Australia’s future earth observation needs requires appropriate sovereign capability including enhanced science, observations, analysis and modelling capability.”
Professor Menk said while the Australian Government’s recent investments in space are stimulating growth of the space industry sector, the space science research and innovation capabilities necessary to develop a sustainable national space ecosystem have not been similarly enabled.
“Australia must have a space industry of its own – one that we can turn into a high-tech manufacturing, knowledge-based, research supported, export industry in a world hungry for it.
“An internationally competitive space industry in Australia will depend on a foundation of excellence in science and technology.”
Picture: Australian Academy of Science
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