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Time is ripe for domestic space agency

Jean-Yves Le Gall speaking to an SIAA  function in Adelaide last week.

Reproduced from Issue 441 DEFENCE WEEK PREMIUM EDITION. April 2017. By Philip Smart, Adelaide

Visiting Adelaide last week for briefings on September’s 2017 International Astronautical Congress, Le Gall is head of the French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) space agency, president of the International Astronautic Federation and former flight director on more than a hundred Ariane European rocket launches.

He told a Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) gathering that the industry is seeing unprecedented change which can only increase opportunities for space-related businesses.

“Today the international space arena is experiencing what I would call a seismic shift, probably its biggest reshaping since its inception 60 years ago,” he said.
 
“Private players are proving economically viable when formerly only governments were involved. The Chinese and Indian space agencies have shown new ways of conducting space missions with faster cycles. The fledgling South African space agency is about to be born.

“Miniaturisation is lowering the barrier of access to space for a much broader range of public and private stakeholders.”

In March the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) called on the Federal Government to create a national space agency and space program.

In its Advancing Australia in Space white paper, the SIAA said the Australian space industry already generates annual revenues of $3-4 billion and employs between 9,500 and 11,500 people. But a space agency and cohesive national space program could double overall revenue within five years and may allow Australian industry to capture four per cent of the world market within 20 years.

Le Gall supported the SIAA’s call for a national space agency.

“Having a space agency allows a country to create a momentum in the sector of space,” he said, suggesting such an agency would ideally concentrate as much on the “downstream” applications of space derived data, used in almost every facet of modern life, as on the hardware positioned in orbit.

“Many applications are possible today with satellites which were not possible five or 10 years ago,” he said. “What is at stake today is to connect and to observe.

“We have in front of us the ‘internet of things’ and these things will work only if you are connected with reliability and speed. And observe is important because if you want to have cars without drivers you need to have good positioning systems that are very accurate.”

Adelaide will host the 68th International Astronautical Congress, the world’s largest annual space industry gathering, from September 25 to 30. Up to 4000 delegates, including space agency heads, industry leaders and astronauts are expected to attend for a series of plenary lectures, technical sessions and events.

Delegates will present more than 250 scientific and technological papers on advances in space science, research, technology, exploration, regulation and education.

The Congress will also celebrate the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty.

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