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European Space Agency visit shines a spotlight on WA space skills

Science Minister Dave Kelly welcomed the recent visit to Western Australia by the Director General of the European Space Agency, Professor Jan Woerner, and the opportunity to highlight WA’s potential to be the home of the proposed Australian space agency.

The Minister and WA’s Chief Scientist, Peter Klinken AC, joined Professor Woerner as he visited the ESA’s ground station at New Norcia, one of only three deep space ground stations operated worldwide by the agency.

The New Norcia station has played a pivotal role in communications for major space missions such as Rosetta and Mars Express. The visit emphasizes the crucial role WA plays in the global space industry, and showcases the State as a leading contender to be the base of the Federal Government’s proposed national space agency.

Currently, WA participates in ground-based satellite and deep space tracking, tracking and monitoring of space debris, defence testing, optical and radio astronomy, space research, ‘big data’ management and processing, geospatial data, and precision engineering.

In August, the WA Government made a submission to the Federal Government’s review of Australia’s Space Industry Capability. This submission highlighted the many areas of the space sector in which Western Australia is a key contributor.

Science Minister Dave Kelly commented: “Western Australia has been involved in the space industry for nearly 60 years and we believe WA is the perfect fit to be the home of the proposed national space agency. A space agency would build on our strong capabilities in areas such as radio astronomy, remote sensing, and big data management and our growing international reputation. WA already has existing relationships with global space agencies, such as NASA, ESA and Japan’s national space agency, which the State and nation can leverage off.”