Canberra: Australia's Space Capital
Canberra is the driving force behind Australia's space industry. It has the infrastructure, businesses, research strengths and education and training systems to support civil, commercial and defence space applications.
Canberra has had a long and direct involvement with some of the biggest events in international space exploration, providing critical support from the first moon landing to the Mars Phoenix landing.
Drawing on this expertise, the local industy's capability is internationally renowned. Canberra's research and education institutions, innovative local SMEs, global exporters and multinational primes with large space programs make a significant contribution to the global space industry.
Canberra also has a vibrant business start-up community with a strong interest in Space 2.0 through new upstream and downstream, and information-based business opportunities.
Canberra is Australia's capital city located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Canberra's space facilities are located around the city, and are all within a 25 minute drive from major civic centres.
Space capabilities in the Canberra Region
Canberra leads Australia in key capabilities needed to drive Australia's space agenda including:
- The Australian National Space Mission Design Facility at UNSW Canberra, combined with the ANU National Space Test Facilities at the Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre, provides Australia's only end-to-end facilities for the design, building and testing of spacecraft.
- Construction has commenced on Australia's first Optical Ground Station (OGS) at the ANU facility to be commissioned in June 2021. This OGS is an Australian-first and will be the first operational node in a planned Australia-wide OGS network.
- Geoscience Australia's Positioning Australia program incorporating Australia's Satellite-Based Augmentation System and National Positioning Infrastructure Capability and Digital Earth are all managed in Canberra, supported by the National Computational Infrastructure at ANU.
- CSIRO's Centre for Earth Observation, Headquartered in Canberra, will be a catalyst for engagement with Australian businesses, government agencies and research organisations.
- Canberra is a driving force in space situational awareness and debris monitoring with the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) located at Mount Stromlo combined with EOS Space Systems.
- The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex managed on behalf of NASA by CSIRO, is one of only three NASA Deep Space Network Facilities in the world and currently supports more than 30 deep space missions.
- The Space Tracking Treaty with the USA was recently extended to 2043 and is expected to deliver nearly $400 million to Canberra's economy.
Canberra space industry is an ecosystem of innovative participants from across government, industry, education institutions and the research community.
The Canberra Region Space Industry Capability Directory showcases Canberra Region based space companies such as Q-Labs, Liquid Instruments, Locata, Shoal Group, EOS Space Systems, Geoplex, Geospatial Intelligence, Clearbox, Nova, Equatorial Launch Australia, ViaSat, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Airbus Defence and Space.
Leaders in education, research and strategic thinking
The research and innovation needed to underpin Australia's growing space industry is being actively provided by Canberra's educational and research institutions.
In space-related diciplines, the ANU and UNSW Canberra are Australia's most active higher education institutions. CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and the Space Environment Research Centre all undertake significant, globally linked space related activities in Canberra.
Access to a large, highly technical and scientific workforce
- 46% of Canberra's adult population holds a bachelors' degree or higher qualification.
- The Knowledge City Index 2017 found that Canberra has both the underlying knowledge capital and the activated knowledge economy that sets it apart from all other cities in Australia.
- Canberra is home to world-class small, medium and large space-related enterprises and high-tech companies providing a fertile environment for innovation opportunities.
Canberra is well positioned for international engagement and collaboration. In addition to more than 80 embassies and high commissions located in Canberra, our higher education and research institutions, key space primes and industry players have strong international connections and presence in the global space industry.
Key government partners for Australia's space industry are located in Canberra
The Australian Space Agency has a significant presence, co-located with the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources in Canberra.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade facilitate Australia's international relationships and treaties.
- The Department of Defence has responsibility for the implementation of the development of Australia’s space defence capabilities as set out in the Defence White Paper.
- CSIRO has significant interest in space activities and manages the Deep Space Communications Centre at Tidbinbilla in Canberra under contract to NASA.
- Geoscience Australia is responsible for Australia’s position, navigation and timing, and Earth observation capabilities.
- The Australian Communications and Media Authority is responsible for spectrum management.
- The Attorney-General’s Department is responsible for space law and international treaty law.
- The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has responsibility for satellite communications and spectrum management.
- The Department of Agriculture Water, and the Environment has responsibility for agriculture production through Earth observation technologies.
- National security agencies such as the Australian Signals Directorate, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Cyber Security Centre are located in Canberra.
ACT Government’s commitment to supporting the growth of the space industry
With our businesses, infrastructure, innovation and research strengths, Canberra is well placed to grow and sustain a thriving space sector.
The ACT Government is committed to working with the national space sector to help build a significant and globally competitive industry including:
- The ACT Government has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Space Agency to strengthen the national space industry.
- Committing $9.75 million over three years to support the growth of key sectors including the space industry.
- Ongoing identification and promotion of investment and trade opportunities within the space and spatial industry in Canberra.
- Driving Australian Government recognition of the significance and growth potential of the sector.
- Improving coordination and development of sector-related policy across all levels of government.
- Growing public, business and political awareness and commitment to the viability of the sector.
- Collaborating with all sector players to define strategic focus for growing the industry.
- Continuing to attract and support emerging technologies, entrepreneurs, and businesses in Canberra.
Space Canberra Team