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Australian government axes National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO)

The Australian government has cancelled the $1.4 billion National Space Mission for Earth Observation (NSMEO) which was announced by the former Minister for Science and Technology in March 2022. The cancellation has been blamed on the need to achieve budget savings.

Australian online publication Defence Connect says that under the program announced just weeks before the 2022 election, it was envisaged four satellites would be launched between 2028 and 2033 to assist with Australian access to global earth observation data.

When announcing the NSMEO program last year, former Science and Technology Minister Melissa Price claimed, “developing and launching these first four Australian satellites will create the foundation of industry know-how for more complex space missions next decade”.

For “budget repair” reasons the new Australian government has instead decided to continue to rely on international partners who currently provide crucial Earth observation data.

The Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic insists the incoming Labor government still “values the role our space sector plays” despite axing the satellite program.

“That’s why in our recent budget we placed The Australian Space Agency on a sustainable financial footing,” Mr Husic said.

“Not only does the sector draw on significant support from across portfolios, but space-related firms will also be able to access capital through our $15bn NRF plus our newly announced $392 million Industry Growth Program.”

The Government insists no tenders have yet been put to market and no commercial contracts have been signed under the NSMEO program but acknowledges around 30 staff will be impacted.

In last month’s budget, adds Defence Connect, the Australian government also terminated the Australian Spaceports program, the Australian Technology into Orbit program, and a sub-program connected to the Moon to Mars program.

Earlier this year the ABC revealed members of Australia’s fledgling space industry were growing alarmed that lucrative opportunities were being lost because of a lack of government focus on the sector since last year’s election.

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