Australian space manufacturers receive AU$1.3b backing from Canberra

The AU$1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative will be delivered as part of the federal government's AU$1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing strategy, which has identified space as a priority sector.

The Australian government has announced it is helping local space manufacturers expand their supply chains globally through its AU$1.3 billion Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI).

Under round one of the integration and translation streams of the MMI, four space companies will share in nearly AU$14 million in funding.

The biggest share of AU$5.8 million will be handed to Romar Engineering, which will use the fund to manufacture and deploy space fluid and motion control products for future space missions.

Q-CTRL, a commercial spinoff from the University of Sydney, is another recipient that will receive AU$4.5 million to expand its manufacturing of novel remote sensing payloads for space deployment. Earlier this year, the company teamed up with Fleet Space Technologies to develop quantum sensing and navigation technologies for space exploration.

The other companies to benefit from round one are Titomic and rocket engineer designer EffusionTech, each of which will receive AU$2.3 million and AU$1.2 million, respectively.

"These grants will help bolster Australia's reputation in the growing global civil space industry and build on the important work being led by our Australian Space Agency," Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said.

"From satellites, to componentry in sensors and even rocket engines, Australian manufacturers are drawing on our existing advanced manufacturing expertise to launch into new exciting local and global markets."

The MMI is being delivered as part of the federal government's AU$1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing strategy, which has outlined the space as one of the priority sectors. The other sectors that have also pinned as priority industries are resources technology and critical minerals processing, food and beverage, medical products, recycling and clean energy, and defence. 

In May, former Australian Defence minister and Boeing Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific president Brendan Nelson urged the federal government to take a coordinated approach towards growing Australia's space industry.

He envisages that this could happen by establishing a council that would bring together "disparate elements of the sector" -- including universities, the training sector, small startups through to big corporations and "everything in between", publicly funded research institutions, entrepreneurs in the space sector, the chief scientist, representatives from different geographies, plus ministers in relevant portfolios -- to develop a work program so it's not just a "talkfest".

"You could have like a small G20 model where you have working groups that are tasked with doing work and delivering reports to the meeting in front of the relevant ministers on a regular basis -- I would suggest three times a year," Nelson explained to the Standing Committee that is currently conducting an inquiry into the development of Australia's space industry.

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