Sunday, June 26, 2011

Australian Space Research Program Analysis

With Round 4 of the Australian Space Research Program announced, I thought I would take a look at the global picture of what the four rounds and $40 Million of Government funding looks like.

For a start, in total, there were 14 ASRP grants awarded across the four selection rounds. Of these, there were 4 grants awarded under Stream A (Education) and 10 awarded under Stream B (Space Science and Innovation).

Looking at the funding total, excluding GST, I add up a total of $40,322,000 funding awarded (very slightly above the $40 Million allocated). Of that total, $3,071,158 went to the 4 Stream A Grants, and $37,250,842 went to the 10 Stream B Grants as below.

That also means that the average award for Stream A grants was $767,790, whereas the average award for Stream B grants was a much higher $3,725,084.

Taking a look at which states did well out of the ASRP, ACT and SA did the best with 4 grants allocated, with NSW on 3, Victoria on 2, and Queensland on 1 (taking into account only the lead recipient) as below.

There were a total of 61 different organisations who are part of ASRP Grant Consortiums, with the most involved organisations being the Australian National University who is involved in 6 different ASRP grants, followed by the University of NSW with 5. DSTO and EOS Space Systems are involved in 3 each, and Curtin University of Technology, the Bureau of Meteorology, University of South Australia, CSIRO and Vipac Engineers and Scientists involved in 2 grants each.

19 International organisations are involved in the ASRP grants, demonstrating that the ASRP is highly successful in developing international cooperation and links. The USA led the way with involvement in 4 programs, with France coming in second with involvement in 3 programs. 

So what can we learn from all of this? Well, firstly, the ASRP grant money was clearly spread across a large range of organisations in Australia, and has enabled strong international links with many of the worlds leading Space nations.

In looking at the states and international involvement, we may also start to see some interesting things for the future of Space in Australia. Clearly, the Space Industry is focussed primarily around 4 states - ACT, SA, NSW and Victoria. This would not come as a surprise to many. We can also see that internationally, Australia is forming links primarily with the USA and Europe. These are also the most likely international partners for future space cooperation.

In my view, the ASRP has already been a great success, and forms an interesting model for continued space activities in Australia. Whilst a fully sector proposed model is unlikely to form the basis for an Australian national Space Policy, propositions from Industry and Academia should continue to be part of that future. I'm sure the lessons from the success of the ASRP are being fully taken into account by the Space Policy Unit, and I look forward to the national Space Policy release shortly.

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