Looking Up from Down Under: Australia Partners with Boeing to Boost Its Young Space Program

Australia's young space agency signed a partnership with Boeing at the 35th Space Symposium on April 9, 2019.
Australia's young space agency signed a partnership with Boeing at the 35th Space Symposium on April 9, 2019. (Image credit: Getty)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Australia's space agency is teaming up with Boeing to boost the budding space industry in the land Down Under. 

Australia didn't have a national space agency until about nine months ago, and it has one of the youngest space agencies in the world. Now, Boeing is going to help the country get its space program off the ground. 

To seal the deal, officials with Boeing and the Australian Space Agency signed a "statement of strategic intent" here at the 35th Space Symposium on Tuesday (April 9). 

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Under the new agreement, the Chicago-based aerospace company will invest in research and development, innovation, education and other government programs that will help give Australia's space industry a boost. The country hopes to grow its space market from about $2.8 billion to $8.6 billion by 2030 while doubling the workforce of its space industry, Boeing officials said in the statement.

"It means a lot that we've signed this agreement during a year when the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, when both Boeing and Australia played important roles in that historic achievement," Jim Chilton, senior vice president for space and launch at Boeing, said in the statement. Chilton was referring to a tracking station that Australia built to help NASA communicate with astronauts during the Apollo missions. 

Boeing has also built several satellites for Australia's military, and the company works with multiple research partners in Australia, such as the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the University of Queensland. 

"This Statement of Strategic Intent highlights Boeing’s existing collaboration with CSIRO, universities and industry in broad areas such as space debris monitoring, advanced manufacturing and fuel production in space, on-orbit imaging, VR and remote spacecraft operation," Megan Clark, head of the Australian Space Agency, said in the statement. "This partnership opens the doors for Australian innovators to participate in the global supply chain of the space sector."

The Australian Space Agency plans to focus on developing GPS and navigation technology, Earth-observing satellites, communications, space situational awareness, robotics and automation. Not only will Boeing help Australia develop those technologies, but the company will also work to inspire the next generation of Australian rocket scientists to help ensure that the agency has a bright future ahead. 

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.