The 2020 Federal Budget has revealed that the government won’t be charging for space launches just yet. This is due to the impact of COVID-19 on the wider Australian industry.

Compared to the rest of the budget, it’s small change. The government is only missing out on around $300,000 here. But it’s still interesting considering how young Australia’s space industry is. Rocket launch taxes are rather novel.

“The Government will defer the commencement of a regulatory charging arrangement under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 to 1 July 2021, to support the civil space industry through the impacts of COVID-19,” the Budget papers read.

“This is estimated to reduce revenue by $0.3 million in 2020-21. The cost of this measure will be met from within the existing resources of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources. This measure builds on the 2019-20 MYEFO measure titled Growing Australia’s Space Industry.”

So the government won’t be taking a cut of what gets launched into space from Australia just yet. And it’s currently unclear what this regulatory charging arrangement was going to look like. But there isn’t exactly a lot being shot up there at the moment.

This news comes just two weeks after Australia’s first commercial rock launch took place in South Australia. The Dart rocket is just 3.4m long and is part of Plan Jericho — an Air Force program involving the detection and tracking of targets. The Dart will travel as far as 100km into the atmosphere.

Two years ago the government handed $26 million seed funding to the Australian Space Agency to help kick it off. This was announced as part of the 2018 Budget.

“The Government will provide $26 million to establish a national space agency to drive investment, create jobs and continue Australia’s participation in the global space economy,” the 2018 Budget papers stated.

“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,” then-Acting Science Minister Michaelia Cash said at the time.

“The agency will be the anchor for our domestic coordination and the front door for our international engagement.”