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National space agency to be created in Australia

Australia is set to get its own national space agency for the first time, it has been revealed.

The 68th annual International Astronautical Congress is taking place in Adelaide this week, where members of Malcolm Turnbull's administration are expected to announce further details of the agency, which is likely to provide Australia with a significant boost in both business investment and tourism.

Australia is one of the only developed nations to not have its own space agency - aside from Iceland, it is the only OECD country without one - so the establishment of one would bring it in line with other major global players amid rapid space industry growth.

Even New Zealand has dabbled in space tech, with Kiwi company Rocket Lab launching spacecraft. Jan Drobik, Australian minister-counsellor for defence, science and technology, admitted this had made Australia rethink its plans.

Michaelia Cash, acting minister for industry, innovation and science, commented: "A national space agency will ensure we have a strategic long-term plan that supports the development and application of space technologies and grows our domestic space industry."

Minister of education Simon Birmingham added: "This agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement with so many of you across the world's space industries."

The Space Industry Association of Australia believes that Australia is an ideal location for a new space agency, as it is in a good setting for the testing of space technologies, thanks to its large size but low population.

At present, the Australian government estimates that the space industry down under contributes some $4 billion to the country's economy, employing some 11,500 people.

However, the global space sector is believed to be worth in the region of $420 billion - a pie Australia could have a greater slice of with the creation of its own national space agency in the near future.

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