Working with the US in space to deliver benefits on Earth

Australia and the United States have agreed to work together on enhancing Earth observation from space, further securing the data that is central to our everyday lives and driving growth in our local space sector. 

A joint Statement of Intent between the Australian Space Agency and NASA has been signed at the Colorado Space Symposium, after the Morrison Government committed almost $1.2 billion to Australia’s first ever National Space Mission for Earth Observation in last week’s Budget.

The first phase of the National Space Mission will include Australia designing, building and operating four satellites that will capture globally unique data, carving out an important role for Australia internationally.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said the signing was an important part of locking in Australia’s access to the valuable data we rely on, as well as our place in the global space community. 

“For us to unleash the full power of Earth observation we need to work with our closest international partners to share data and learn from one another,” Minister Price said. 

“The United States has long been a global leader in land imaging from space.

“In fact, their data has been helping Australians for decades. This signing is the first step toward Australia contributing to and enhancing this critical network for the benefit of both our nations.

“Our Government’s $1.2 billion investment in the National Space Mission for Earth Observation in the 2022-23 Budget is the most significant in Australia’s history and it’s because of investments like this that global players like NASA are wanting to work with us.

“The Morrison Government is committed to growing the local space sector because as this mission shows, it benefits the everyday lives of all Australians while also creating high-paying jobs across a range of skillsets.”

The Statement of Intent highlights opportunities for Australia and the US to work together.

It includes how the satellites being developed under our National Space Mission could complement NASA’s CLimate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory – Pathfinder (CLARREO-PF) mission.

CLARREO-PF will take high accuracy measurements of reflected sunlight needed to help us better understand Earth’s climate system.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the National Space Mission for Earth Observation was a unique opportunity for Australia.

“The National Space Mission is a true milestone in Australia’s space history,” Mr Palermo said.

“It takes us from a consumer to a contributor of Earth observation data, which we all know is a huge part of day to day life.

“By working with the United States and other international partners, we can not only secure future supply of essential EO data but we can also learn and develop capability that will support the growth of the Australian space sector.”

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy, who signed on behalf of the US, said: “We are pleased to complement and strengthen the value of our CLARREO-PF mission and global Earth observations through this statement of intent to continue our strong partnership in space with Australia.” 

The Statement of Intent also highlights the critical roles the United States Geological Survey and Geoscience Australia would play in any future opportunities to work together.

The National Space Mission is being led by the Australian Space Agency in partnership with Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Defence.

The Morrison Government has committed well over $2 billion to the civil space sector since establishing the Australian Space Agency in July 2018. 

It is part of the mission to triple the size of the space sector by 2030 to $12 billion and create an extra 20,000 new jobs.