Virgin Galactic’s Chief Operating Officer Enrico Palermo has been named as the new Head of the Australian Space Agency, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday.
Mr Palermo will replace inaugural Head Dr Megan Clark, who will step down at the end of December to take on the role of Chair of the Australian Space Agency Advisory Board in the New Year.
In making the announcement, the Prime Minister said Mr Palermo ‘will be an enormous asset to the Agency’.
“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,” Mr Morrison said.
“By 2030, we want to triple the size of our space sector – adding $12 billion to our economy and creating up to 20,000 new, high-skilled jobs.
“I extend my deepest thanks to Dr Clark who has led the Agency from its infancy in 2018 and set a clear path forward.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Mr Palermo would provide strong leadership and direction for the Agency given his background in engineering, commercialisation and innovation.
“Mr Palermo’s skill set reflects the reality of the space sector, which is about so much more than just research or launch – it improves life on earth and creates opportunities in a range of areas including manufacturing,” Minister Andrews said.
“The economic benefits of space exploration are vast, with highly skilled jobs right along the supply chain from manufacturing to robotics, engineering, and resources.
“The Australian space sector continues to expand at the speed of light, and I look forward to working closely with Mr Palermo to capitalise on the opportunities for Australian businesses and manufacturers in the space industry.
“I know he will build on the solid foundation of Dr Clark, who saw the Agency through lift off – establishing the Agency headquarters in Adelaide, modernising the space legislation framework to ensure safe operations and securing agreements with international space agencies and companies.”
Mr Palermo, who has worked extensively in the space industry over the past two decades in the UK and the USA, including as President of The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s aerospace-system manufacturing organization, said he was honoured by the appointment, and excited to take up the role in January.
“In its first two years, the Australian Space Agency has made significant progress and achieved many firsts,” he said.
“I look forward to working with the Agency team to continue the mission of growing and transforming Australia’s space industry.”