back to article Australia commits to establish space agency with no budget, plan, name, deadline …

Australia's government has committed to starting a space agency, but there are no details about its mission other than a vague commitment to helping industry. The government has already initiated a Review of Australia's Space Industry Capability. Acting minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, senator the Hon Michaelia …

  1. sanmigueelbeer

    How difficult can this be?

    C'mon, seriously? No organizational NAME, deadline or BUDGET? How difficult can this be?

    It ain't rocket science, folks!

    1. Kane

      Re: How difficult can this be?

      "It ain't rocket science, folks!"

      That's right, it's only brain surgery.

    2. AndyS

      Re: How difficult can this be?

      I suggest Australian Research and Space Exploration. Or maybe the Australian Space Society.

      1. StephenH

        Re: How difficult can this be?

        Someone agrees with you

    3. CFtheNonPartisan

      Re: How difficult can this be?

      When you are a government without a plan, no policy beyond a dollar in a pocket, no clue, struggling to spell s.c.i.e.n.c.e, and their only capability is answering Dorothy Dix's in question time, stardust and BS seem better than their typical day, Some voters might believe, but those with functioning brains understand it for what it is (not).

  2. Big-nosed Pengie

    I'm sure it'll be managed at least as well as the NBN.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Space port

    Didn't Australia used to have a "space port" (ie, bit of empty desert to shoot rockets from) called something that sounds like onomatopoeic chundering ?

    1. Clive Harris

      Re: Space port (Woomera)

      Actually, I think Woomera was part of the British space program, before the program got cancelled due to short-sighted budget cuts (and back in the days when Australia did anything the "Mother Country" told it to do)

      Interesting fact: a "woomera" is an Aboriginal spear-throwing stick - a sort of notched stick used to give extra leverage when throwing a spear. Apparently the town got its name after the local aborigines decided that the the British were building a new, very big, spear-throwing gadget there - a pretty accurate description of what they were actually doing (mostly ballistic missiles).

      Last time I was there, the town was pretty run-down. Maybe it can be be revived if this goes ahead.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Space port (Woomera)

        Britain being the only nation to launch a satellite, and then give it up.

        1. annodomini2

          Re: Space port (Woomera)

          Britain being the only nation to develop the capability to launch a satellite, and then give it up.

          Technically they gave up before they gained the capability, but they launched the thing anyway.

        2. eldakka

          Re: Space port (Woomera)

          Britain being the only nation to launch a satellite, and then give it up.

          Add Australia to that list.

          In November 1967 Australia launched WRESAT, designed and built in 11 months, from Woomera aboard a left-over American Redstone booster (10 were provided for warhead re-entry tests, but only 9 were used for that program).

    2. mathew42

      Re: Space port

      Woomera is being used to test scramjets.

      There is 2000km of sparsely populated land to the east of Woomera so it is an ideal location for launching reusable rockets. There is a very low risk of strong storms and the neighbours are a long distance away.

      1. ocratato

        Re: Space port

        I think you will find that the Woomera range is to the north west of Woomera. 2000Km to the east would just about overfly Sydney (not a good flight path for experimental rockets).

    3. Puuru

      Re: Space port

      Too late Oz, we've already got one over here in Aotearoa - it's called Mahia. It has needed no government input other than permission to launch (out over the South Pacific, no-one's head to land on, and no planes to worry about, so very few restrictions). It's all been done by our very own Kiwi Rocket Man, one Peter Beck. His RocketLab is about to launch its second rocket, with actual, real payloads on board. Now there's confidence for you - all they have to do is get the support company to remember to turn on the forward error correction on the telemetry receiver, and you can be sure this time they will. So put that in your didgeridoo and smoke it!

  4. Neoc

    "The fact that its future existence was first revealed to media in the city of Adelaide ..."

    *Adelaide*? Let me get this straight - the best place for a spaceport would be as close to the equator as possible, so NT or North QLD are prime candidates... but they announce the agency in Adelaide?

    (NB for our non-Aussie friends: Adelaide is on the SOUTH side of the continent, well away from the equator).

    1. Woza

      Yes, a spaceport should be near the equator, but a spacepork is best situated near a dense mass of potential votes.

      1. Martin Summers Silver badge

        "Yes, a spaceport should be near the equator, but a spacepork is best situated near a dense mass of potential votes."

        Mmm... Spacepork

        I would love to know what kind of words you've got stored in your auto correct. Anyway, maybe you're thinking subconsciously that Oz will get a space agency when pigs fly (in space)?

    2. the Jim bloke

      While South Oz does face the southern edge of the continent, the geometry of the continent is such that bits of the coast are relatively northish... I resided in Whyalla for a couple of years which is further north than Sydney. (and worked north of Woomera at times)

      This doesnt make it better than north Qld, or NT, so other factors come into consideration. Perhaps they would like to drop stuff into the ocean, not going to get away with that around Queensland, and probably not a good idea in the Torres Strait.

      No one in federal government is going to give this to West Oz.

      Biggest issue I see is psychology, Adelaide/SA is home to psycho murderer corpse collecting loonies, but they listen to COUNTRY MUSIC in Queensland.

      1. Denarius


        Actually the 19th century abandoned town south of Cape York tip would be ideal. Alternatively Albany Island just off east coast of said townsite. Lots of empty water to east where things may drop into deep water. There was a brief flurry of suggestions a decade or two ago that a site there could be leased to a joint project with Russians but friends do not let friends/lackies mix with those sort of people. </sarcasm>

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      True but largely irrelevant

      since as article points out there isn't much prospect of Australia developing a launch capability in the near future. This is about the technology (or at least it should be). You can build the technology anywhere.

      1. ocratato

        Re: True but largely irrelevant

        Yes, its not about launching things.

        It would be more likely about building satellites or other space technology.

        Adelaide has a history of high tech stuff. Apart from supporting Woomera they had some quite advanced weapons research work, and things like over-the-horizon radar.

        Perhaps we can marry it up with our mining expertise and build stuff for mining asteroids.

    4. Faceless Man

      Re: Adelaide?

      Adelaide is the closest state capital to Woomera, which is in South Australia. If you watch old footage of rocket launches there, you'll notice they start at a fairly significant angle.

      As a bonus for non-Australians, Woomera was also the site of one of our "state-of-the-art" immigrant detention centres. (The "art" being locking people up to no great purpose in sub-human conditions for long periods. An art we no longer practise in this country, we outsourced it to small islands.)

      The fact that Christopher Pyne and a few of his South Australian colleagues are sliding in popularity may also have something to do with the decision.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    IIRC this is being pushed by South Australia

    But congratulations as it seems they are about at the point the British National Space Centre was at when it was established.

    Basically a "buyers club" for UK ministerial departments buying payloads and satellite services with no independent budget (operating funds chipped in by the client departments).

    They promptly established a them park for space (the British Space Centre) in Leicester.

    It took decades to become the British Space Agency, and get an independent budget.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: IIRC this is being pushed by South Australia

      British National Space Centre

      Which is, as I'm sure we all know, in Swindon..

      Mind you, if they demolished most of North Swindon in some industrial accident it wouldn't be a great loss..

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    A name?

    Austrailian Space Service.

    ASS for short.

    1. defiler

      Re: A name?

      Australian Space Development Agency - ASDA.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: A name?

        The Australian Space Works And Discovery Agency - ASWAD Agency

    2. Faceless Man

      Re: A name?

      More like "Australian Rocket Science Establishment"

    3. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: A name?

      National Australian Space Agency or NASA for short.

      Oh, hang about...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    didgeri-dont risk it.

    Although the technical and engineering knowledge of Aussie Scientists would, I'm sure, be more than up to the job of a space program, there would be a severe danger of the rockets launching, turning around in mid air, and returning to the space center. This certainly must be a risk to consider.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: didgeri-dont risk it.

      So boomerangs are SpaceX's secret technology ? It all makes sense now

  8. Magani

    Art imitates life imitates art imitates .....

    Rob Sitch's show 'Utopia' is once again shown to be a documentary.

  9. imanidiot Silver badge


    A mission to Mars must be easy for Australia(ns), the country/continent is already actively trying to kill anything that inhabits it, temperatures are blazing hot or freezing cold, there's no water to be found for hundreds of miles in many places and the sand is very reddish indeed. Seems like the perfect place to find Mars colonists.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Shirley

      At least there aren't any Spiders on Mars

      1. LaeMing
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Shirley

        Shhhh. That's what they want us to believe.

      2. eldakka

        Re: Shirley

        At least there aren't any Spiders on Mars

        If Australia starts a launch industry, then that won't be true for long.

      3. BlackKnight(markb)

        Re: Shirley


  10. Shaha Alam

    the RFP's went out for a super-catapult.

  11. iLurker

    Easy... this isn't about space.

    It's an excuse to pour money into hi-tech boondoggles in South Australia - i.e. a pork-barrelling exercise to win some votes in marginal seats.

    For those unacquainted with South Australia, it is basically an arid desert state, very isolated from the eastern states, in dire need of anything to boost its economy, and also happens to be the home of Woomera (rocket range used by the Brits 60 years ago) and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation.

    The Australian federal government has a history of large boondoggles in bizarre locations that frankly don't make any rational sense in order to prop up a state economy that would otherwise have failed long ago. Sheep farming in a desert (why, you might ask, as many perished in the attempt), Woomera (abandoned decades ago), car manufacturing (sense finally prevailed at the hands of accountants), a submarine base (on the wrong side of a very large continent)

    1. LaeMing

      Re: Easy... this isn't about space.

      Actually, the sheep farming in the desert is easy to explain: After a couple of very-unusually wet years, the desert looked lush and the farmers demanded they be allowed to go out there until the government caved and let them. Then the rains (expectedly) didn't come again.

      1. mathew42

        Re: Easy... this isn't about space.

        Classic example of governments and the general populace ignoring scientists.

        Goyder's Line was produced by the Surveyor-General by observation of flora and it has proven remarkably accurate, although indications are that climate change is moving it south.

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          Goyders line....

          From the Wiki

          "Many farmhouse ruins can still be seen in the vicinity of Goyder's line."

          So, lots of opportunities for those "Start a new life in Aus" TV shows to pick up a bargain?

  12. Tikimon

    Maybe they should just invest in "Wearables" instead

    Hey, wearables meet all the same points as a space program. There's no unmet need for it, no viable plan to make it real or any notion of what to do with it if it somehow is actually constructed. And what else but wearable tech has the ability to waste as much money for so little return as a poorly-run space program?

  13. Stevie


    So, exactly the same economics as the 20-years old and counting "NASA Mars Initiative" first blithered about by King George the Second, then by Barack Obama and, when he can figure out that the "Hillary Clinton wagon" is falling apart, Donald Trump, all to draw attention away from flubs, fumbles and uckfups.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No budget, no plan, NO PROBLEM!!!

    Think of how much interest in space Gene Roddenberry generated with just a few cardboard sets, a couple stagehands to make a whooshing sound as they manually opened and closed the turbolift doors, and a bunch of props and costumes left over from old Westerns/gladiator flicks/medieval dramas/etc. Experience shows that you don't even need good actors to pull it off!

    (You will need to train the cameraman to tilt the lens back and forth and have the bridge crew stagger from side-to-side when the Klingons attack though.)

  15. TheOtherMe
    Black Helicopters

    Better use of money

    I'd much rather see this developed to fruition than the current plan of wasting in excess of $50Bn on unwanted, obsolete and frankly useless submarines.

  16. marky_boi

    It's a distraction, emmmm bad polls

    Come on people, this is a play straight out of yes minister...... get a series of bad events and bad polls...... announce a new <thingy = distraction>,Fast Train, Northern Australia development region .... Think Snowy Mountains 2, now a space thingy

    Malcolm doing bad in the polls??? Honestly have they just been watching Utopia as a documentary?!?!?!?

    1. mathew42

      Re: It's a distraction, emmmm bad polls

      This is more about the state government trying to save itself at the March polls.

      Now is a good time to be selling something to the South Australian Government if it reduces the chance of negative publicity (e.g. Telsa installing batteries).

  17. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    Space Aid?

    Some Australians argue that foreign aid should be cut because we should help our own first. The thing is that those same people are the last to help our own anyway.

    Now we are asking them to put money into space?

  18. Winkypop Silver badge







  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government is flailing, desperate times

    See title

  20. Murray Chaffer







  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adelaide, S.A?

    I'd put a rocket up that squealing court jester Pyne too!

    I love the smell of pork barrelling in the morning.

  22. Florida1920

    Rocket fuel

    I love the smell of burning Vegemite in the morning.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      "I love the smell of burning Vegemite in the morning."

      Vegemite, breakfast of champions.

  23. EnviableOne

    IIRC there still one of the UKs rockets sitting at Woomera, and with the advance in materials, a modern take on it, could end in a very cost effective satelite lauch vehicle.

    so its not beyond the realm of posibility, that this may just end up making money for dear old Oz

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