Building on the foundations of existing competitive strengths and comparative advantage, investment in the Australian space manufacturing sector will:
- open doors internationally
- increase national space manufacturing capability
- support the pipeline and development of a highly‑skilled future workforce.
Australia can harness the comparative advantages and competitive strengths of the following National Civil Space Priority Areas:
- Earth observation
- position, navigation and timing (PNT)
- communications technologies and services
- space situational awareness and debris monitoring
- leapfrog R&D
- robotics and automation on Earth and in space
- access to space.
The Australian Civil Space Strategy, alongside the establishment of the Australian Space Agency, has provided the foundation to catalyse sector growth and focus effort through 4 strategic space pillars: National, International, Responsible and Inspire.
Over the 2, 5 and 10 year life of the road map, Government will partner with and support industry to build capability in the space manufacturing and research and development sectors.
To build these capabilities we will be seeking to unlock opportunities through the following activities.
Capturing the small satellite opportunity
With a focus on lifting space manufacturing capability and boosting collaboration to support new jobs, attract investment, grow local businesses and build the skills pipeline it will be essential that the Government supports investment into the enhancement of small satellite design, development and manufacture.
Designing, manufacturing, assembling and launching small satellites, subsystems and components for LEO, MEO, GEO and beyond is a considerable opportunity for Australian businesses. It is already subject to significant commercial interest. Australia’s location in the Southern Hemisphere offers a significant comparative advantage for space mission operations. This includes space situational awareness, space surveillance, space communications, and space traffic management activities.
There is scope for Australian manufacturers to produce key satellite components and engineering software. Australian capability in this area would provide streamlined access to in‑space platforms. These could be used to test and deliver commercial solutions, and to meet future capability needs for the sector.
Attracting ‘spin-in’ from adjacent sectors
There is significant opportunity to foster closer relationships between sub‑industries in Australia with relevant manufacturing capabilities. There is significant scope for space manufacturing to ‘spin‑in’ to the space sector from adjacent sectors and activities such as:
- fabrication using new materials
- mining and resources
- robotic platforms
- systems and technologies
- clean energy
- auto industry
- electronics sub‑industries.
These sectors are increasingly using these capabilities to improve their precision navigation, mapping, data analytics, communication capabilities, and to reduce costs.
Harnessing our robotics and automation expertise
Australia’s science, research and innovation capabilities are critical enablers to transform manufacturing, particularly in the space sector, with technology and innovation crucial for manufacturers to supercharge their operations and harness emerging opportunities. The Government will work with industry to invest in new technologies, automation and new advancements that will grow manufacturing capabilities and competitiveness.
Australia needs to harness existing robotics and automation expertise, currently based on terrestrial heritage, and support SMEs to transition to creating and manufacturing new robotic systems that address space and orbit specific technologies. Applications could include those in On‑orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (OSAM), remotely managing assets in space, space logistics, and in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU).
The Australian Government has already made a significant commitment to Australian businesses and researchers to support NASA’s Moon to Mars program.
Meeting strategic needs in defence
The Defence sector presents opportunities for Australian space manufacturing in coming years. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update outlines approximately $7 billion to upgrade and assure space capabilities including position, navigation and timing, satellite communications, and situational awareness. This commitment to investment in Defence’s space capabilities provides a pipeline of potential projects and procurement for Australian space manufacturing.
To take advantage of opportunities in defence, Australian manufacturing capability must meet necessary expectations and standards. Australia’s role as a Five Eyes partner differentiates us from competing space manufacturing markets, giving our companies a significant advantage in the provenance and security of manufactured goods. Australia has high security standards and cyber security capabilities, and can be influential in the conversation around international security standards.
Connecting to the global space economy
Global interest in Australian technology for space applications offers great opportunity. Australian businesses stand to enter global supply chains and connect our industry to the growing global space economy. Technologies with this potential include ISRU, optical communications and quantum technologies, space medicine, and advanced in‑space assembly and manufacturing.
Leveraging our world-class R&D
Australian manufacturers can take advantage of the booming global space market by leveraging our innovative culture, research expertise, geographical location, and highly educated and skilled workforce. Australia has world‑class R&D in key opportunity areas, including:
- new rocket technology
- new high‑tech materials
- optical and quantum communication technologies
- access to significant natural resources (such as rare earth minerals) that can be processed to provide primary inputs into manufacturing processes.
These areas all have the potential to translate to manufactured components for space.
What’s working well in Australian space manufacturing?
Australian space manufacturing is making great progress in:
- Sector spin-in: manufacturers from adjacent sectors are keen to be involved in the space economy.
- Investor interest: investors are enthusiastic about the Australian space sector.
- Australian Space Agency: businesses welcome the Agency as a front door for coordination and space-related initiatives.
- Research commercialisation: the Australian Government’s Research & Development Tax Incentive is supporting research commercialisation in space manufacturing.
- Talent: Graduates and skilled workers are enthusiastic to work in the space sector. The Australian Government’s Global Talent Visa Program is streamlining access to skilled talent overseas.
- Strong international support: strong domestic and international commercial networks, as well as funding initiatives, have leveraged our competitive advantages to build new partnerships and create new opportunities for the space industry.