Australia attracts the international space research community to Sydney, for global impact


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

With the global space industry on the verge of disruption from new technologies, some being developed by Australian scientists and engineers, the world’s most important space research event being hosted in Sydney confirms the excellence of Australian space research and the opportunities ahead for the broader Australian space sector.

The international bid for the 43rd Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) has been won by a team led by UNSW Canberra and the Australian Academy of Science. COSPAR, held every two years, will take place in Sydney in 2020, bringing around 3000 international space experts to our shores.

The networking of researchers, scientists, engineers, industry leaders and other space specialists from around the globe will create an endless series of exciting opportunities, says bid leader Professor Russell Boyce, Director of UNSW Canberra’s space program and Chair of the Academy’s National Committee for Space and Radio Science.

“There has been a paradigm shift in the way we think about space technology,” Boyce says. “We’re now developing smaller, unmanned space craft that could act together in swarms, or enable global, secure communications networks using quantum technologies, which is an absolute game changer.”

“Australia is perfectly placed to develop these and other space technologies, such as sensors for monitoring environmental and climate change. We have a significant opportunity to apply space science and technology to help meet Australia’s challenges, and help us capitalise on the opportunities ahead. Building on the momentum of next year’s International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, COSPAR 2020 Sydney will put a firm focus on Australian capabilities, innovation and partnerships in the space research sector.”

Space experts from over 50 nations will travel to Sydney for the COSPAR event as that space research sector thrives. Representatives from major research and educational institutions including CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, Bureau of Meteorology and the Square Kilometre Array, as well as international agencies, universities and industry will be in attendance, rubbing shoulders with leaders from around the globe.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO, who was also behind Sydney’s bid, said, “We come to the table with a bold vision for our nation’s place in science and through science, our place in space.”

Australian Academy of Science Secretary for the Physical Sciences, Professor Jim Williams, said the Academy’s National Committee for Space and Radio Science welcomes the decision for Australia to host the assembly. Australian researchers and institutions have extensive expertise across space science, and we are seeing an increase in support by the Australian Government.

“This important event will provide valuable opportunities for Australian space and radio scientists to engage and collaborate with international scientists.

“UNSW has a strong heritage in and commitment to the field of space science, and we are very pleased to work with the university in supporting this event,” Professor WIlliams said.

UNSW Canberra is spending $10 million over the next five years on the development of Australia’s own space program known as UNSW Canberra Space. A mission team has been built and five space missions confirmed, with three more currently undergoing feasibility studies. The university is proud to be playing a lead role alongside the Academy in attracting and implementing COSPAR 2020 Sydney.


Professor Russell Boyce
Director, UNSW Canberra Space; Chair, National Committee for Space & Radio Science

Professor Jim Williams FAA
Vice-President, Australian Academy of Science
(via Dion Pretorius, Media Manager, 0418 281 777)