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Building the Space Nation

By chance or by design?

Australia's space ambition

The Australian space ecosystem is brimming with the capability needed to be world class.

But we won’t get there by chance; it will be by design.

Australia can choose to have the capacity and capability to contribute to the global space economy.

New Space calls for us to be agile and dynamic compared to legacy spacefaring nations. As an emerging player, we have a time-limited opportunity to position ourselves as leaders in the next generation of space.

To get there, industry development in the New Space paradigm must be different, and it requires an ecosystem mindset.

The space ecosystem

Characterised by multiple interdependent systems, organisations operating in the space environment resemble a complex and evolving ecosystem. There is no leader in an ecosystem, like government, dictating the actions of others. Rather, each member of the ecosystem is responsible for its own actions and future.

This may seem like there is an absence of responsibility or direction. However, it’s not command and control – an old space mindset – that results in a highly successful, innovative industry.

Instead, the ecosystem is organised around a shared vision for the future, acting as a magnet to draw in organisations and present opportunities for cooperation and collaboration across seemingly unconnected networks. The level of sophistication of the ecosystem that forms around successful enterprise will fundamentally rely on the quality of these complex networks.

Collecting the voices of our ecosystem

Over the course of two months, we gathered perspectives from ecosystem players on where we’ve been, what we’re doing, where we’re going and how we should get there.

These perspectives are inevitably diverse, but they share common undertones. Here, we present the voices of the ecosystem across four recurring themes: talent, building our value proposition, commercialisation and cohesion. Holding up a mirror, we provide an overview of what the ecosystem is thinking and experiencing today, and how this might inform the ecosystem of tomorrow.

Talent, and the availability of the right skills and capabilities, is a priority area for all ecosystem stakeholders. Building a sustainable ecosystem requires a continuous pipeline of talent that matches the needs of industry. Across the ecosystem, we heard the importance of long-term planning for education and training, as well as the need to identify where the space ecosystem can educate others.

What do we want to be known for? Why Australian space? It’s clear there’s still more work to be done on our united value proposition. We each have our own drivers that get us out of bed in the morning – business success, research breakthroughs, working with like-minded people – and our own space focus areas. But we need a common driver, a common north star for Team Space Australia. How can the space ecosystem unite around a common mission, and what are the building blocks of our value proposition for the Australian space ecosystem?

Australian space is commercial space. Building a sustainable space ecosystem requires more than just good products and people; it requires commercial, outcome-based investments and impact. But it wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that, across the ecosystem, challenges with commercialisation are inhibiting growth. We get it – as organisations mature and ecosystems grow, the commercial ‘growing pains’ often stifle great ideas from becoming profitable products. Add the perceived (and real) riskiness of space, the ‘final frontier’ vibe from the non-space community and the need to demonstrate flight heritage, and commercialisation becomes harder and longer than your average sector. Where do we start?

The value of an ecosystem is more than the sum of its parts. Yet, for this to be realised, we need to function as an ecosystem. We need to look beyond our siloed, transactional relationships – what we need to do to keep the lights on and bills paid each day – and collaborate with the broader space ecosystem. Doing so requires a common purpose, a cohesive strategy, around which we can all rally. No one gets to space alone, and not a single stakeholder in the Australian space ecosystem thinks we’re getting this one right. From financial analysts in Sydney offices pouring over insurance data to ground station mechanics in remote Northern Territory, how do we create a sense of cohesion in such a diverse ecosystem?

Australia’s space ecosystem: where to next?

Looking ahead and outside of our own ecosystem, space has a significant role to play in Australia’s future as both a security and an economic priority. Space is going to play a leading role in solving big, complex, global problems like climate change.

So, for an ecosystem like ours, we implore you to think laterally: how are you going to leverage others in the ecosystem that are on the same journey as you? And because this is a two-way street, how can you also help others on their journey?

This is how we will build the space nation – together.

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