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Australian Space Agency appoints Virgin Galactic COO as star boss

Australia’s space agency has appointed a star boss with Virgin Galactic’s chief operating officer set to make a giant leap and rocket home for the role.

Enrico Palermo will take over from inaugural head Megan Clark, who led the agency from blast off in 2018.

Mr Palermo will return to his native Australia after two decades of working in the space industry in the United States and United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new head comes to the role with extensive international experience in the space industry

Australia's space agency has appointed a star boss with Virgin Galactic's chief operating officer set to make a giant leap and rocket home for the role

Australia’s space agency has appointed a star boss with Virgin Galactic’s chief operating officer set to make a giant leap and rocket home for the role

Enrico Palermo will take over from inaugural head Megan Clark, who led the agency from blast off in 2018

Enrico Palermo will take over from inaugural head Megan Clark, who led the agency from blast off in 2018

‘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 on Friday.

‘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.’

Dr Clark will finish at the end of the year to become the chair of the agency’s advisory board.

Mr Palermo, who is a Perth native, works at Virgin Galactic’s aerospace-system manufacturing organisation and is president of the Richard Branson-founded Spaceship Company.

He has been with the company for 14 years managed a team of 700 engineers and technicians to launch big name projects such as Virgin’s fleet of Mach 3 commercial aircrafts. 

‘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.’

Mr Palermo has been with Virgin Galactic for 14 years managed a team of 700 engineers and technicians to launch big name projects such as Virgin's fleet of Mach 3 commercial aircrafts

Mr Palermo has been with Virgin Galactic for 14 years managed a team of 700 engineers and technicians to launch big name projects such as Virgin’s fleet of Mach 3 commercial aircrafts 

Mr Palermo, who is a Perth native, works at Virgin Galactic's (pictured, Richard Branson standing in front of a Virgin Galactic Spaceship in 2016) aerospace-system manufacturing organisation and is president of the Richard Branson-founded Spaceship Company

Mr Palermo, who is a Perth native, works at Virgin Galactic’s (pictured, Richard Branson standing in front of a Virgin Galactic Spaceship in 2016) aerospace-system manufacturing organisation and is president of the Richard Branson-founded Spaceship Company

He will move from California to Adelaide where the agency is based.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said Mr Palermo would be able to use his extensive history to steer the Australian Space Agency to new heights.

‘The economic benefits of space exploration are vast, with highly-skilled jobs right along the supply chain from manufacturing to robotics, engineering and resources.’ 

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