The Australian Space Agency and NASA have just signed a new partnership to work together on America’s plan to return to the moon in 2024. The endeavour will produce new technologies and help build Australia’s growing aerospace industry.
On September 21st, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Space Agency head, Dr Megan Clark, met with NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington, D.C., to formalise the agreement.
‘The investment will allow our businesses and researchers to contribute Australia’s best ideas and technology to support NASA’s plan to return to the moon and on to Mars,’ Clark said.
‘We’re getting behind Australian businesses so they can take advantage of the pipeline of work NASA has committed to,’ Morrison added.
The Australian Government has committed $150 million to the partnership but the Australian Space Agency and NASA are still working out the best areas in the industry to help each other out in.
Project Artemis is set to return humans to the moon in the next five years. NASA’s heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, will take astronauts to the Gateway space station in lunar orbit. From there, the explorers will descend in a landing craft to the moon’s South Pole. The early missions will help pave the way for a permanent surface colony.
Australia and NASA’s working relationship goes back all the way to the early days of human spaceflight. It was the tracking stations in Parkes, NSW, and Honeysuckle Creek, ACT, that televised Neil Armstrong’s first footsteps on the moon to the world in July 1969. Since the 1960s, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex has been one of three locations around the planet that communicates with many of NASA’s deep space probes, such as the two iconic Voyagers and New Horizons.
The partnership will benefit the Australian economy and will be a key contributor to the plan of increasing the country’s aerospace sector to $12 billion annually by the early 2030s. It has been estimated that the opportunity will lead to 20,000 new jobs over the next ten years.
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