Space mission central to Australia's 2022–23 Budget


Wednesday, 30 March, 2022


Space mission central to Australia's 2022–23 Budget

The Australian Government’s 2022–23 Budget has been handed down, featuring a range of funding measures for the STEM sector including the establishment of Australia’s first ever national space mission.

The Budget includes $1.16 billion to 2038–39 and $38.5 million per annum ongoing for the first phase of a National Space Mission for Earth Observation, which will see Australia design, build and operate four new satellites. Led by the Australian Space Agency in partnership with Geoscience Australia, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology and Defence, the mission is intended to make Australia more self-sufficient when it comes to critical Earth observation data, while also growing capability and job opportunities to set the industry up for future success.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said this is the most significant investment ever made in Australia’s civil space sector.

“The information we get from Earth observation satellites is central to our everyday life — from forecasting the weather and responding to natural disasters through to managing the environment and supporting our farmers,” Price said.

“Developing and launching these first four Australian satellites will create the foundation of industry know-how for more complex space missions next decade. That means more expertise and more jobs right here in Australia in this critical industry.

“It will also solidify our relationships with like-minded countries so we can continue to draw on the data from their satellites for the benefit of all Australians.”

It is estimated the project will create more than 500 jobs over the first four years of the build phase, with an anticipated supplier network of more than 100 companies from across Australia.

Other Budget funding for the space sector includes:

  • $65.7 million over five years from 2021–22 to set the conditions for rocket launch from Australia and fast-track the launch of space assets and research projects by Australian businesses and researchers.
  • $12.1 million over five years from 2021–22 (and $0.3 million per year ongoing) to remove cost recovery requirements under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 and undertake a regulatory reform program to streamline interactions with industry.
  • $9.5 million over two years from 2021–22 to develop a Space Strategic Update to provide direction on future funding opportunities and align Australia’s space efforts.
  • $3 million in 2022–23 to extend the International Space Investment initiative and continue building relationships with international space agencies.
  • $25.2 million to expand the International Space Investment initiative and provide funding for Australian businesses and research organisations to work on projects with the Indian Space Research Organisation and the broader Indian space sector.
     

This funding takes the total amount committed by the government to the civil space sector to well over $2 billion since the government established the Australian Space Agency in 2018, in addition to the $85.9 million the government has committed to Australian space industry skills and jobs as part of the Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

In terms of health and medical research, the government is investing $6.8 billion over four years, which should improve health outcomes while creating jobs and economic growth. This investment is being provided through three funding sources: $3.7 billion for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), $2.6 billion for the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and $500 million for the Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF). The government is also extending the period in which the BTF can make initial investments until 30 June 2026.

The government will build on its support for health and medical research by investing $6.3 billion from 2022–23 to 2032–33 in an update of the Medical Research Future Fund 10-year investment plan. This long-term commitment will include new funding of $384.2 million to support Australia’s upcoming early- to mid-career researchers, to keep them engaged with the sector. Other areas of investment focus include a further $478 million for preventive and public health research, $374.4 million for clinical trials, $240 million for medical research commercialisation and $70 million for primary healthcare research.

Outside these areas, the Budget includes $37.4 million to 2025–26 to establish a new CSIRO Research Translation Start program to build further cooperation between researchers and industry and supercharge their commercialisation journeys. The government is also investing $63.6 million to 2025–26 and $1.5 million per annum ongoing to further support the work of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), including funding to remediate AIMS’s wharf at Cape Cleveland, south of Townsville.

Other funding highlights include:

  • $505.2 million over five years from 2021–22 (and around $182.3 million ongoing) to establish Australia’s Economic Accelerator to support projects to take university research to proof of concept and proof of scale.
  • $295.2 million over five years from 2021–22 ($142.8 million a year ongoing) to create new research training pathways for students and researchers in Industry PhDs and Industry Fellowships.
  • $150 million in equity funding over five years from 2021–22 to expand CSIRO Innovation Fund (Main Sequence Ventures).
  • $33.4 million over two years from 2021–22 (including $14.4 million in capital funding) to the National Measurement Institute to deliver essential measurement standards and services that underpin business continuity and international trade.
  • $5.3 million over two years from 2021–22 to improve the National Science and Technology Council’s provision of science and technology advice to the government and to continue support of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science event.
  • $4.7 million over four years from 2022–23 to continue support for the Women in STEM Ambassador initiative and the Future You national digital awareness raising initiative.
  • $2 million over four years from 2021–22 to extend the Superstars of STEM Program, to continue raising the profile of Australian women in STEM and inspire the next generation.
     

Price said the government recognises the incredible role science and technology play in changing lives and creating new industries, and that this investment is proof of their importance.

“We are harnessing science and technology to help our businesses commercialise their great ideas and create the high-value jobs for Australians which we need for the future,” Price said.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Stéphane Masclaux

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