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Australia outlines space development priorities

The Australian Space Agency (ASA) has published a new road map to support the development of the country's robotics and automation capabilities.

The ‘Robotics and Automation on Earth and in Space Roadmap' – published on 24 January – outlines a range of priorities for Australia during the 2021–30 timeframe in areas including defence and national security.

It lists national security as one of the “areas of high opportunity and enduring priority for the application of Australian space capability”. The ASA Roadmap also underlines the scope for potential in its collaboration with the Department of Defence (DoD) on the applicability of robotics and autonomous systems in military operations.

“Ongoing collaboration between the Australian Space Agency and DoD in these opportunities has significant potential, particularly with robotics and automated systems present in all defence domains,” the Roadmap states.

The ASA also points to the importance of such capabilities in developing Australia's defence industry. It notes that space, robotics, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence are all identified by the DoD as sovereign industrial capability priorities.

The policy identifies six priorities: remote operations, interoperability, analogue facilities and services, robotic platforms, in-situ resource utilisation services (ISRU), and foundation services.

The ASA plans to make headway by utilising local technologies and field sites, accelerating research and development efforts in co-operation with adjacent industries and international partners, and developing versatile robotic systems.

In recent years, Australia has increased efforts to bolster space capabilities, with the aim to become more self-reliant. For example, the country has traditionally depended upon Japan, the United States, and the European Space Agency's satellites for data. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is also reliant on the US's Wideband Global SATCOM system (WGS) for real‑time operational and logistical information.

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