Eurovision to the ESA ... perhaps!

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ESA
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General Space

When will Australia join the space race?

Ultimately, there are lots of young people in Australia who see their future careers in space. To become involved they currently have to leave our shores. We meet them often at an Outback Astronomy sky show.

It’s brain numbing to know that our nation over the last three decades has been invited to become part of the European Space Agency (ESA) and declined.

Remember how recently it felt good to be part of Eurovision song contest (ie pop music delivered in a variety of foreign languages). Australia’s very own Dami Im was a superstar performer coming in second in this contest reserved for Europe’s member states only.

If we can get on board with Eurovision, what’s stopping engagement with the ESA? Don’t say the price tag. It’s only $20 million per year. Not as much as you may have guessed if you’d not been told. Plus, the ESA gives a 100 per cent return through contracts to businesses and universities.

What’s holding us back?

Our space capable people are leaving Australia to get involved. Warwick Holmes is one. He worked on the ESA Rosetta mission during his 25 year career with the ESA. He’s been in the Australian media often in recent months asking the same question. When will Australia enter the space race?

We presume this must be via membership of another space agency somewhere in the world as it is probably the only cost-effective option left.

The space industry has long moved on since the Parkes  Observatory technology contributed to the moon landing in 1969.

So fast-forward to 2016, and what has our nation done since? According to a Department of Industry, Innovation and Science spokesman we use “space-derived information” via agreements with agencies so membership of any international space agency “is not required” (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/aviation/join-european-space-agency-expert-warwick-holmes-urges-australia/news-story/052f93325c6d4a40d7faf8b11e9f0c6a).

We can’t help contrasting the faceless comment above with the attitude of the managing director of SBS in 2015 when Aussies shocked the world by securing a singing spot in that year’s Eurovision contest (sung by Guy Sebastian):

“We are very excited to have secured this historic opportunity for Australia to be represented on the world's biggest stage at the 60th anniversary of the Eurovision Song Contest and are honoured that the European Broadcasting Union has supported us to achieve this ambition.

SBS has been broadcasting Eurovision for over 30 years and we have seen how Australians' love of the song contest has grown during those years" http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/eurovision/11624461/Why-is-Australia-in-Eurovision.html.

Image: ESA/Rosetta/MPS a wide-angle view taken by Rosetta, 17 May 216, when 9.4 km from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko