The CSIRO just tipped another $16 million into growing Australia’s fledgling space industry

Over at NASA this past week:

The new promotional video is responsible for a lot of excitement, especially with talk of “returning to the Moon – to stay”.

Things aren’t quite as exciting here in Australia, yet. But there is definitely movement at the station in just the five months since the formation of the Australian Space Agency.

Just a week ago, South Australian startup Fleet Space Technologies sent Australia’s first commercial CubeSats into orbit aboard a rocket launched from New Zealand.

Fleet CEO Flavia Tata Nardini made a point of crediting the ASA for helping it push through the paperwork to enable a build-and-launch project to be completed within two months.

And in September, the CSIRO launched its space roadmap which outlined ways it believed the ASA was capable of tapping into a US$345 billion global space market.

Note to NASA above – that included building an Australian space base on the moon.

Australia’s space goals. Image: CSIRO

Today, the CSIRO announced it’s tipping another $16 million into the space race. It’s opened up a new area on its Future Science Platforms program – Space Technology.

“Space Technology will receive $16M to identify and develop the science to leapfrog traditional technologies and find new areas for Australian industry to work in,” the CSIRO said.

“It will initially focus on advanced technologies for Earth observation, and then address challenges such as space object tracking, resource utilisation in space, and developing manufacturing and life support systems for missions to the Moon and Mars.”

The funding is to help the ASA reach its goal of tripling the size of the domestic space sector to $10-12 billion by 2030.

The CSIRO also added Artificial Intelligence to the program for the first time, earmarking $19 million “to target AI-driven solutions for areas including food security and quality, health and wellbeing, sustainable energy and resources, resilient and valuable environments, and Australian and regional security”.

All up, there are now 10 areas of future science in the FSP program, which was launched in 2016 aiming to use “deep technology expertise” to help develop Australia’s major industries.

By 2022, the CSIRO will have invested $205 million in the FSP.

You can read more about this year’s round of funding here.