CANBERRA, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has appointed an executive from the U.S. spaceflight company Virgin Galactic as the new head of the Australian Space Agency (ASA).
The prime minister and Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, on Friday announced that Enrico Palermo, chief operating officer at Virgin Galactic, will lead the ASA from 2021, succeeding inaugural head Megan Clark who will become chair of the ASA Advisory Board.
Morrison said that Palermo, a West Australian who was the first person recruited by Richard Branson for his space tourism venture in 2006, would bring a wealth of industry experience to the role.
"Mr Palermo's leadership will rocket Australia toward our goal of becoming a major player in the international space industry, while providing benefits across our economy," he said in a statement.
"By 2030, we want to triple the size of our space sector - adding 12 billion Australian dollars (8.6 billion U.S. dollars) to our economy and creating up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs," he said.
"I extend my deepest thanks to Dr Clark who has led the Agency from its infancy in 2018 and set a clear path forward." he added.
The ASA was established in July 2018 with headquarters in South Australia.
Palermo, a mechanical engineer, said he was excited and honoured to be joining the ASA.
"In its first two years, the ASA has made significant progress and achieved many firsts. I look forward to working with the Agency team to continue the mission of growing and transforming Australia's space industry," he said.
Andrews said that Palermo's background made him an ideal fit for the ASA as it enters a new stage.
"The economic benefits of space exploration are vast, with highly skilled jobs right along the supply chain from manufacturing to robotics, engineering, and resources," she said.
"The Australian space sector continues to expand at the speed of light, and I look forward to working closely with Mr Palermo to capitalize on the opportunities for Australian businesses and manufacturers in the space industry," she said. Enditem