Interview – Sunrise, Channel 7

Australia’s space sector & meeting with NASA Boss at 70th International Astronautical Congress in Washington DC


David Koch: Australia is being pitched as a key partner to some of the biggest names in space this morning at a global conference underway in the America. Our Science Minister is due to meet with the boss of NASA very soon to discuss the PM's recent $150 million space deal.

The Government also has meetings lined up with the heads of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Virgin Galactic and Microsoft. Science Minister Karen Andrews joins me from Washington DC. Minister, thanks for your time. Look, there are a lot of countries way ahead of us in space. How does Australia find its niche?

Karen Andrews: Yeah look, that’s a really good question, because our space agency has only been in place for about 14 or 15 months. But since the time it’s been established, it has seriously opened some doors for us in the space sector. NASA, we’ve already had a long relationship, but they are keen as anything to speak to us. We’ve had the announcement by the Prime Minister of an additional $150 million that will go to support Australian business being part of NASA's Moon to Mars mission. So, we are seen as a safe environment, we are seen as a country that has got particular skills that are advantageous to NASA and potentially to other space nations. So things such as remote health …

David Koch: … Okay. So hang on- how are our skills are different than say the Germans or the Japanese who are way ahead of us? What are the unique things that we can bring?

Karen Andrews: Okay. Well let me just pick up a couple of those. One is the mining and resources sector where, for example, we operate mines in the Pilbara remotely, 1600 kilometres away in Perth. So that’s an expertise that could easily be scaled up so that we could look at working on the moon. Also remote health; so a lot of the health work from Antarctica is managed and advice is given from Tasmania and South Australia for example. So remote health is an area that NASA in particular is very keen to explore with us.

David Koch: Wow, that’s really interesting.

Karen Andrews: So we do actually have some significant …

David Koch: … Yeah. No, it’s great. It’s good for us to know those sorts of things. Minister, thanks for joining us.