Airbus confirms commitment to Australia's space industry

Airbus confirms commitment to Australia's space industry

It's been a long time coming, but Australia's space industry is finally ready for lift-off.

The latest bit of positive news for the sector is the receipt of a statement of intent from European manufacturing giant Airbus to continue developing its high-tech projects in the country.

Executive vice president space systems at Airbus Defence and Space, Nicolas Chamussy, says the company intends to support the growth of jobs in Australia with a focus on innovation and skills.

"We look forward to working with the Australian Space Agency, as well as the country's academia, SMEs and start-ups, to develop Australia's space sovereign capability," says Chamussy.

"This includes nurturing and developing areas of strategic priority and technologies identified by an expert reference group panel."

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says the statement, the first with Australia's new space agency, should attract further investment opportunities in the sector.

"Airbus has a major presence in Australia, supplying earth observation satellite imagery to the Australian market for over 25 years," says Andrews.

"The statement is confirmation of Airbus' support for Australia's space discovery, technology development and connectivity, and science, technology, engineering and maths education."

L-R: Dr Megan Clarke, Head of the Australian Space Agency and Pierre Jaffre, President Asia-Pacific Airbus (photo: supplied)

Airbus has been operating on a number of key projects in Australia since 2016, when it opened a new purpose-built ground station to land communications traffic from its Skynet 5 satellite in Adelaide.

More recently, Airbus selected Wyndham airfield in Western Australia in June 2018 as the first flight base for its Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

Though primarily for military use, the Zephyr can be used for farming guidance, environmental and security monitoring, and to provide internet coverage to regions of poor or zero connectivity.

The head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark, says the statement of intent from Airbus demonstrates the new role Australia will play in the global space sector.

"We welcome Airbus' choice of Australia for the world's first operations of the Zephyr and Skynet 5 platforms," says Clark.

"In addition to job creation, we also commend Airbus' efforts to actively support STEM education and training opportunities in Australia and internationally."

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