Ahead of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) this week, the Australian government announced that it's moving forward with plans to establish its own space agency. Australians have been expecting the decision, ever since the government started rethinking its space capabilities in July this year.

With the growing space/aeronautical industry now worth about $420 billion, Australia wants to cash in. Speaking to ABC News, Australia's acting industry minister Michaelia Cash said the country shouldn't be left behind. "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," she said. "The agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement." Cash also said that local support for the decision was overwhelming.

Australian Center for Space Engineering Research director Andrew Dempster said there are many reasons why Australia needs their own space agency. "Kids [who] want to aspire to be an astronaut need to have an agency," he said in an ABC radio interview. "But the main reason [...] is we need to be building this industry." Local startups need to have access to the wider global space industry and a national space agency gives them that.

The Australian government is expected to give more details later this week at the 2017 IAC in Adelaide, where SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk is scheduled to give an update on his Mars plans.

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