Topics: Moon landing anniversary celebration at Parkes, the Australian Space Agency
Basil Zempilas: Well, welcome back. Just in case you’ve been living under a moon rock for the past week, today is the 50th Anniversary of man landing on the moon for the very first time. In fact the eagle had landed just an hour ago back in 1969.
Edwina Bartholomew: And while we’re looking back at that momentous achievement there are plenty of people looking ahead at the opportunities for space exploration in the future.
One of them is Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, and she’s in Parkes today for all of the celebrations. Good morning to you Karen in the shadow of the dish there. As Minister for the Australian Space Agency you’ve been in talks with visiting NASA dignitaries about the role Australia can play in future space enterprises. What’s come of those discussions? Any exciting announcements?
Karen Andrews: Well good morning and how fabulous is it to be here at Parkes with the dish right behind me? It’s just wonderful. Look, and yes we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first steps by Neil Armstrong on the moon but in Australia we’ve recently established the Australian Space Agency. So we announced that about 12 months ago. Since then we’ve been working hard to establish and re-establish relationships with many of the space agencies across the world, and of course NASA is a space agency that we have, from Australia, long had a connection with from back 50 or so years ago.
So what we’re talking to NASA about is how Australia can engage more closely on the future work that they’re undertaking. So they’re working on the Artemis program now which will be their next venture to the moon, so we’re talking to them about what Australia’s role may well be in that program.
Basil Zempilas: And what may Australia’s role be in that program Minister?
Karen Andrews: Well there’s potentially a couple of options for us. So, we’re keen to engage with the International Space Station but how wonderful would it be if we were able to at least send some equipment on the Artemis program, if we were to conduct some research from the moon in conjunction with NASA. So all of those things are on the table now. And of course NASA will be taking more astronauts to the moon and I’m sure that there would be many Australians who would like to be one of those astronauts.
Basil Zempilas: Yeah. My word.
Edwina Bartholomew: Minister, there are some questions around Federal Government funding and not adequately funding the space agency. I think there is hope that it’ll be tripled, the budget from $4 billion a year to $12 billion in 2030. Is that on the cards? It sounds like a lot.
Karen Andrews: The Australian Space Agency is structured very differently to NASA. So what we are doing is working closely with industry because we need industry to be engaged in space. So it’s not just the Government, it’s the Government and industry that will be working hard to grow the space sector from where it currently sits at $3.9 billion to $12 billion.
Currently in Australia about 10,000 people are employed in the space sector and by 2030 there’ll be an additional 20,000 people. Now for us to be able to do that we need industry, we will need researchers working together to build those employment options.
Basil Zempilas: It’s a lot of money to spend but it doesn’t feel like the day to rain on that parade. So let’s talk about what’s happening at Parkes today – 12.56pm Australian Eastern Time was the time 50 years ago that Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. What will the celebrations be like there today? What’s planned for today?
Karen Andrews: Well there’s lots of activities here. So there’s certainly lots of talks. There’s tours of the dish that are going to be underway. At about 12 o’clock I think we start to kick off some of the very official discussions today. So we’ve got a whole range of really interesting scientists to be talking to our young people and their mums and dads, and their grandparents about all things space. And of course here, CSIRO have done some magnificent work with their telescope so everyone’s going to be really interested to hear and learn as much as they possibly can.
Edwina Bartholomew: It is fascinating to go inside that control room. Thank you so much Minister for joining us on Weekend Sunrise.
Karen Andrews: It’s a pleasure and I’m looking forward also, I believe I’m actually going to get a ride on the dish later, so I can’t wait for that.
Edwina Bartholomew: Yeah, like a hay ride. Lucky you.
Basil Zempilas: Lucky you. Thank you Minister.