Australia India Space Cooperation: Unlocking International Opportunities

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UTS Tech Lab – Botany, NSW

Thank you, Dr Brewster, for your kind introduction.

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

Our First Nations peoples are the world’s oldest astronomers, having watched and understood the movements of the sun, moon and stars for many thousands of years.

I pay my respects to their Elders past and present, and extend my respect to First Nations people here today.

I am delighted to welcome India’s High Commissioner to Australia, His Excellency Mr Gopal Baglay, UTS Vice Chancellor Andrew Parfitt, and Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency.

And to the Australia India Institute, thank you for organising today’s events.

As it happens, the Australia India Institute was launched in 2008 – the same year another significant launch occurred.  India's very first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan 1, took off the very same year. 

While that may be a coincidence, the strength of Australia’s partnership with India is certainly not.

Our two nations are Comprehensive Strategic Partners.  We share a close and natural partnership, founded in mutual strategic and economic priorities.  We share a region.

And we will continue to embrace the shared challenges our region faces into the future with shared efforts - as close friends.

Outer space – as a frontier for scientific knowledge and for geopolitical activity – will increasingly become a domain in which we collaborate on our common challenges.  

Space-enabled solutions are essential to many of our land-based challenges – from equitable economic growth to climate change adaption, and everything in between.

Together, Australia and India are well placed to tackle these challenges and to find shared solutions.

Australia’s space sector is a serious commercial operation, ripe with investment opportunities.

We have leading capabilities in areas such as robotics and remote operations, optical and quantum communications, ground stations networks and remote health and life science expertise.

And India is a leading player in space.

India’s space sector is one of the fastest growing in the world.  It has the world’s largest constellation of remote sensing satellites.

Last year, amidst its G20 presidency, India became the first nation to reach the moon’s southern polar region, and only the fourth to make a lunar landing, with the brilliant Chandrayaan-3.

The successful mission reflects India’s significant investment in the space sector, one of the fastest growing in the world.

Australia and India’s commercial space sectors are developing fast, supported by complementary skill sets and investments.

And we share a vision of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, making us perfect partners in a domain critical to our shared future.

Prime Minister Albanese and Prime Minister Modi acknowledged this in 2023, when they announced Round 1 of the International Space Investment India Projects.

This cutting-edge grants program enables Australian businesses and research organisations to conduct joint projects and build closer relationships with the Indian space sector.

Today, I have the privilege to announce $18 million worth of funding to the inaugural recipients of this grants program.

My warmest congratulations to LatConnect60, Space Machines Company and Skykraft, who are all with us this morning.

Each project brings together a number of Australian and Indian partners.

They are prime examples of how we can further strengthen Australia-India commercial space relationships.

Their projects will fit into a suite of programs which leverage science, innovation and the Australia-India friendship for the sake of a region in which agreed rules and norms enable us all to thrive and prosper.

They build on the longstanding, jointly funded, Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which underpins our bilateral science and innovation relationship.  

Since its establishment in 2006, more than A$100 million has been invested through the Fund and over 350 activities supported.

Our cooperation in outer space will complement the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Partnership which supports our organisations to collaborate on the global development of ethical standards around critical and emerging technologies.

And all of these grant programs will be enhanced by the brand-new Maitri Scholars Program and Maitri Research Grants, which support Indian STEM students and industry collaboration to expand our scientific partnership.

These grants, and the activities they fund, both reflect and extend the depth in the Australia-India relationship, our commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and to tackling the challenges of our shared future.

Australia-India science collaboration has been ongoing since the 1950s.  The arrangement supporting civil space collaboration is among Australia’s oldest.

So today’s announcement builds on long traditions of cooperation and commitment. 

It’s a significant milestone in Australia-India space engagement.

I’m looking forward to seeing this spirit of collaboration continue.

Thank you.

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