Donald Trump's Mars mission given $150m boost from Scott Morrison as NASA shows off Gold Logie
For decades an instantly recognisable Australian object has been sitting in an office in NASA's Washington DC headquarters.
Bob Jacobs, a senior agency spokesman, has kept it close because he had "never seen one before", and overnight, while welcoming Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the building, suddenly pulled it out for comic relief.
The Special Logie was met with laughs by the awaiting NASA crowd.
"It's a Logie" Mr Jacobs said, as the crowd laughed.
"This is the Australian equivalent of an Emmy Award".
The "special" Gold Logie was given to astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1970 "for their historic Moon telecast".
The Prime Minister, who posed for photos with it, wryly noted how the way the award is regarded by the public has changed over time.
"It … seems getting a Logie back then was a lot harder than it is today," Mr Morrison quipped.
'Beam us up'
The Prime Minister was at NASA to announce his Government will spend $150 million over five years to help Australian businesses get involved in America's planned mission to the Moon and then Mars.
Mr Morrison said the money could help Australian businesses support US automation systems, build equipment for spacecraft or play a role in minerals exploration.
The fund also allows for Australia's Space Agency to explore technologies that support space mining.
"We're pretty good at mining in Australia," he said, before reiterating his Government wanted to triple the size of the nation's space sector and create an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.
"Space is about jobs as much as anything else," Mr Morrison said.
"We can't wait to be part of the next chapter. So, beam us up."
He also witnessed the Australian Space Agency signing a joint statement of intent with NASA, an agreement that aims to expand cooperation between the two organisations.
The US President has spoken repeatedly about his desire to see a mission blast off by 2024.
When asked in the Oval Office on Friday to outline how the US and Australia could work together on space exploration, the Commander-in-Chief claimed, yet again, that he had almost single-handedly revived America's industry and talked about his discussions with NASA.
"I said, 'Hey, we've done the Moon, that's not so exciting'. They said, 'No sir, it's a launching pad for Mars'," he recalled.
"So, we'll be doing the Moon but we'll really be doing Mars."
More Australian astronauts on the horizon
For there to be more Australian astronauts like Andy Thomas, the space industry needs to be more like Canada and Japan.
Several high-profile current and former NASA employees attended the event, including Andy Thomas, the first Australian to walk in space.
He said he hopes Australia will aspire to play a greater role in satellite manufacturing, satellite launches and human exploration.
"You'd have to do something along the lines of what Canada and Japan do," Dr Thomas said when asked how the nation could start regularly producing astronauts.
Colonel Alvin Drew, who worked on the International Space Station, said he thought it was "inevitable" there would be more Australians on future missions.
"I would give you five years optimistically, 15 years at the most," the former American astronaut said.
"Clearly from the amount of investment Australia is putting into this civil space agency, they're pushing a big pile of chips in and that's going to get us all there as a team this time."