SA’s giant nation-leading leap into space industry

21 September

South Australia is leading the way in space industry development with the creation of the nation’s first dedicated centre to grow the local space economy and create future high-tech jobs.

The establishment of a South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC) has been announced, ahead of the 68th International Astronautical Congress being hosted in Adelaide next week which will be attended by more than 3500 space industry leaders from across the globe.

Located within the existing Defence SA headquarters on Pirie St, the SASIC is the first of its kind in Australia, and positions the State to be part of a National Space Agency – which SA has been advocating for.

SASIC will build on the work of the existing Space Industry Office at Defence SA to drive space industry innovation, research and entrepreneurial development. Start-up staff will comprise a director, aerospace specialist and senior project officer who will be supported by a representative from Department of State Development and Investment Attraction SA. SASIC will be advised by the South Australian Space Council.

It will also support South Australia’s emerging space industry by providing funding of up to $1 million every year to young space entrepreneurs, along with new and existing space start-ups.

The new Centre was announced at Hamilton Secondary College, which is soon to become the first school in the State with a Space Centre. Students from Hamilton Secondary College will be attending IAC next week as part of the ‘SA Schools Space Mission’.

Earlier this week, an expanded portfolio of Defence and Space Industries was created within the ministry, showing South Australia’s commitment to leadership within the space sector.

The South Australian Government has been advocating strongly for an Australian space agency. Last month, SA signed a five-year agreement with the ACT to push for a dedicated national agency. The NT has since sought to join the agreement.

Australia’s space industry is worth $3-4 billion annually, and employs 11,500 full-time workers. Establishing an Australian space agency would more than double the turnover and number of people employed in the industry within eight years.

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is being held from 25-29 September, providing the perfect opportunity to showcase South Australia’s space capabilities. Around 3,500 delegates, including the heads of all the major space agencies and Space X founder Elon Musk, are attending.

Defence SA’s Space Industry and R&D Collaborations office produced the first space strategy of any Australian jurisdiction. SASIC will now take responsibility for the South Australian Government’s space strategy.

SA has an existing and growing space industry with companies such as Fleet Space Technologies and Inovor Technologies who are leading innovation locally.

Premier Jay Weatherill said South Australia has long been a national leader in space innovation.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of Australia’s first satellite launch from Woomera, which made Australia the third nation in the world to launch a satellite into space from its own territory,” Mr Weatherill said.

“We are continuing this national leadership through opening the South Australian Space Industry Centre – the only centre of its kind in Australia – as we continue calls for the Federal Government to establish a National Space Agency.

“Many people think ‘space’ is about astronauts and rockets. It so much more than that, it has become part of our everyday lives – from our daily weather forecasts to using our mobile phones.

“As an industry, space is growing at more than three times the world annual GDP. The potential is enormous and opportunities abundant.

“SASIC will deliver opportunities for manufacturers to transition to a high growth sector, enable start-ups to flourish, and create jobs of the future.”

Defence and Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said South Australia is working to establish itself as a hub for space industry research and development.

“We’re not talking about an agency the size of NASA that sends people to the moon. We are looking at capabilities that benefit society, communications and national security,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.

“At least 60 local organisations with space-related expertise, or the potential to apply current expertise to the space value chain, have been identified in the state so we have a huge talent pool already in the state.

“The space economy is one of five key areas paramount in transitioning our local economy. You are not a credible player in this industry if you don’t have a have a space agency and a well-coordinated plan.

“The kinds of partnerships you need to get Australians into space require a space agency.”