Interview - Sunrise, Channel 7

Natalie Barr
Aussie-made rover announcement

NATALIE BARR: Now, for the first time in history Australia is headed to the Moon. We have partnered with NASA to send an Aussie-built rover on a future lunar mission. Australia's space agency will provide $50 million for the project, with applications expected to open early next year. The rover's job will be to collect soil that can be broken down to extract oxygen on the lunar surface. That will be vital to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon, as well as supporting future missions to Mars. Joining me now is Science, Technology, and Defence Industry Minister, Melissa Price. Morning to you. This is very exciting. We all remember the 'Dish' played a, a key role in that 1969 lunar landing. Why did you decide it was time for another Moon mission?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, how exciting, Nat. Great to be with you. Yeah, Australia's going to the Moon - how exciting. Over the last 12 months we have been working with NASA and, and we now have agreement for our Aussie rover - that's not its name but, you know, we'll get to that later - to be involved in this really important mission. Our rover's going to be landing on the moon and it'll, as, as you have already described, will have a very important job to collect that very important lunar soil. But what a great opportunity for Australian businesses, scientists, and I am hoping this morning that we, we together are inspiring the next generation of young scientists in Australia who want to have their own space journey.

NATALIE BARR: So the last time we landed on the moon was 1972, almost 50 years ago. What's the rover going to do with this soil? Explain the project.

MELISSA PRICE: Well, it's a mission together with NASA. So if you- I can paint the picture, Nat. So rover is going to hitch a ride with NASA on a rocket and then it will be remotely controlled, placed onto the Moon, and as we know, it's going to collect that very important lunar soil. And then NASA will, you know, be able to identify what the level of oxygen will be on the soil. And, as you said, this will be, will be very helpful to determine whether the Moon can sustain human life.

NATALIE BARR: So, has it got a name yet?

MELISSA PRICE: Well, as you know, we're calling it a rover, or I call it Aussie rover. But I- my working title, Nat - and firstly can I say, Australia will be involved, we will have competition to determine what the name of the rover is going to be - but for now, and as a nod to the Pilbara, and as you know, we already have what I would call remotely controlled robots already in the Pilbara with various mining equipment, so I think Red Dog is an excellent working title for rover.

NATALIE BARR: But everyone can put their two bobs worth in. I love it. Okay, it's very exciting news. Melissa, thank you very much for your time.

MELISSA PRICE: My pleasure. Thanks Nat.