2023 was another big year for the Australian Space Agency and the nation's space ecosystem. Relive some of the milestone moments in our list below.
5. Australia – the hottest ticket in town
It was a big year for visits to Australia from some of our most important international space partners.
In March, we welcomed NASA Administrator Senator Bill Nelson and Deputy Colonel Pam Melroy to our shores – the first visit of a sitting NASA Administrator in almost a decade.
Bill and Pam helped announce the two consortia chosen to develop concepts for our future Moon rover, as well as launch the National Indigenous Space Academy.
We also welcomed the President of JAXA and the head of the UK Space Agency for the first time, as we continue to collaborate on global space endeavours.
These three visits in less than 12 months shows that the world cares about and is watching the work Australia is doing in space – a critical signal of confidence in all that our sector does and a firm signal of the opportunity at hand.
4. G'day Roo-ver
A late, breaking addition to the list – just a couple of weeks ago we introduced the world to the name of our history-making rover that will go to the Moon.
Roo-ver was chosen after a competition that saw more than 8,000 entries and close to 20,000 votes.
The campaign was a vital opportunity to connect with the Australian public about what we do and why. It provided a massive platform to highlight the criticality of space to our way of living, as well as reaching into classrooms around the nation.
Two consortia are currently developing early-stage designs for Roo-ver and next year, the Agency will select one to fully realise it.
It’s just one of many ways Australia is contributing to NASA’s Moon to Mars architecture. Also this year we invested $40 million into a range of Australian projects and technologies through our Demonstrator Mission Grants program – as well as support for organisations through our ongoing Supply Chain Capability grants.
3. Aussie astronaut in training
The Agency’s own Katherine Bennell-Pegg made in history in 2023 as she became the first person to be trained as an astronaut under the Australian flag.
Katherine is training with the European Space Agency in Germany, and once finished in 2024 will be fully qualified for missions to the International Space Station.
From medical training to space station robotic arm simulations, sea survival, foreign languages, human centrifuge, hypoxia and hypobaric awareness, and diving in the neutral buoyancy facility to practice spacewalking – Katherine has been on quite the journey.
This training is seeing Katherine develop knowledge and connections that can help create opportunities for Australian science and our space ecosystem more broadly.
She’s also inspiring more young Australians - particularly young women – into careers in STEM and space.
2. TSA takes flight
Get ready to see more launches from Australia, after the signing of a Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) with the United States.
The TSA will allow US technology like rockets and satellites to be launched from Australia. It will make Australia more attractive as a global launch hub – supporting growth across our entire supply chain.
1. That’s the SpIRIT
It’s been a big year for Australian space technology being launched into orbit, and for our industry more broadly.
In November we watched with pride as the Australian-made SpIRIT nanosatellite took flight.
It’s the first Australian satellite to carry a foreign space agency's payload as its main scientific instrument — the Italian Space Agency's HERMES X-ray detector.
Just a few of the other industry highlights across the last 12 months include:
- the largest Australian-made payload launched into space
- millions of dollars in private capital raises
- new manufacturing facilities with cross-cutting capabilities opened
- dozens of deals struck between Australian companies and their global counterparts.