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What the Papers Say

Space place available for shy Aussies

The head of the European Space Agency says he is ready to act "immediately" if Australia wants to join the ESA - but he is yet to receive a commitment.

Agency director-general Johann-Dietrich Woerner spoke to The West Australian ahead of his trip to Perth tomorrow, where he will visit the agency's deep-space antenna near New Norcia.

The New Norcia facility was the agency's first deep-space ground station.

Mr Woerner has been busy at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide this week, where the Federal Government revealed plans for a national space agency.

Premier Mark McGowan and Durack MP Melissa Price have called for the agency to be fully or partly based in WA.

Australia's ties with ESA reach back to the agency's formative years in the 1960s, when it provided the Woomera launch site for the Europa 1 rocket.

Europa 1 was the product of the European Launcher Development Organisation, the predecessor to ESA.

Australia, the only nonEuropean member of ELDO, chose not to continue with ESA.

After Monday's announcement, Mr Woerner said he wanted Australia to join ESA as an associate member, alongside Canada.

"As soon as I get the signal from Australia I will go to my member states," he said.

"If I get a clear message I can do it immediately. I've had positive sentiments, but not any clear commitment." ESA senior science and exploration adviser Mark McCaughrean suggested Australia could save money by joining ESA and gaining access to Earth observation data.

Acting Industry Minister Michaelia Cash said the Federal Government would have a clearer plan for the agency by March.

Source: The West Australian

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