MSA Submission to the 2020 Summit
13 April, 2008
Following is the text of the MSA submission to the 2020 Summit to be held in Canberra on the 19th & 20th of April www.australia2020.gov.au.
Space science and technology is indispensable to Australia's place in the globalise world of the 21st century. It is critical to many areas of the Australian economy, ensuring sustainability, and maintaining security. Without active participation in the space sector, Australia will be handicapped in its ability to reap the rewards, shape international developments, and ensure developments that will meet Australia's particular needs.
We encourage the 2020 Summit to consider the positive contributions that an increased role for Australia in space exploration can make to the Productivity Agenda. For example, Australia's unique environments offer many features that provide insights into extraterrestrial processes on the surface of other planets in the solar system. By studying these, the nation's scientists can therefore make a valuable contribution to understanding these other worlds, in particular Mars. Australian expertise in a number of technologies, for example micro-beam analytical methods and hyper-spectral imaging, are world class and readily applicable to planetary missions. Australia's expertise in hypersonic is invaluable to developing atmospheric entry systems for space probes, and our experience in remote area medicine adaptable to long duration human spaceflight.
We note that planetary science is highly inspirational and well suited to as a basis for secondary and tertiary education and training in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and commerce. This is borne out by interest in facilities such as the Victorian Space Science Education Centre, which allows students to learn about a range of science and technologies during interactive simulated missions to Mars. High levels of public interest in space exploration would suggest that that expanded career opportunities in space science and technology, simulated by interactive learning opportunities in these fields, would help reverse the critical decline in the numbers of science and engineering students.
Mars Society Australia joins other bodies, such as the Australian Academy of Sciences, in calling for a greater collective vision to establish an innovative, recognisably Australian national space science program that performs world-class scientific and technological research. This would allow Australia to play a key role in the development of the space frontier, maximise benefits to Australia by developing relevant technology, and Australia to positively influence global developments in the exploration and utilisation of space, as it has done in the Antarctic.
We believe that many environmental, social and economic benefits will flow from an increased emphasis on space exploration. These include better monitoring of the Australian environment, greater and more diverse research opportunities for researchers, and entrepreneurial opportunities created by demand for many new technologies and services in the globally expanding space sector, and greater opportunities for international collaboration.
We regard the cost of the vigorous space program proposed by the Academy of Science to appropriate to Australia's needs and abilities, and very modest compared to other demands on public R&D expenditure. We therefore urge the summit to recognise the importance of space exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond as an essential part of Australia's future.