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Aussie astronaut calls for establishment of national space agency
by Staff Writers
Adelaide, Australian (XNA) Sep 22, 2017

"The space sector's going through a big transition. We've seen the emergence of commercial providers like Elon Musk and SpaceX, who have drastically driven down the cost of launch services," Thomas said.

The second Australian to ever venture into space has called for the country to establish its own space agency.

Andrew Thomas, an Australian-born National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) astronaut, told the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide that Australia should look to play a leading role in space tourism.

"I hope Australia will seize the opportunity and start participating deeply," Thomas, who went on four NASA trips to space between 1996 and 2005, told the congress on Wednesday night.

"We need to make a very sound business case for it."

"The space sector worldwide is worth something like (320 billion U.S. dollars) and it's growing at 8 percent a year," Thomas said.

A federal review of Australia's space capability has been announced with a report expected to be released in March 2018.

Thomas told the conference, which is expected to draw 3,500 participants from around the world, that recent advances in space travel have come from the private sector.

"The space sector's going through a big transition. We've seen the emergence of commercial providers like Elon Musk and SpaceX, who have drastically driven down the cost of launch services," he said.

"The market is opening up for small players to create business models and generate revenue. It's a very dynamic landscape in the space business."

Thomas became a U.S. citizen in December 1986 while attempting to enter NASA's astronaut program.

He said that while he hopes more Australians get to experience space, the experience is about more than those who undertake it.

"It's about monitoring the health of the environment, the health of the oceans. It's about national security. And that's really where the space sector can contribute to Australian economic well-being for years to come," Thomas said.

Source: Xinhua News

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