South Australia is fast becoming the nation's leading defence and space state, with the launch of a new office in a bid to position the state as the home of a National Space Agency.
The South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC) was today launched by Martin Hamilton-Smith, South Australia's first space industries minister, just a few days ahead of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) being held in Adelaide.
SASIC, located within the existing Defence SA headquarters in the Adelaide CBD, will build on the work of the existing space industry office at Defence SA to drive space industry innovation, research and entrepreneurial development.
SA Premier Jay Weatherill said the new centre is the next step in SA's role as the nation's leader in the thriving space industry.
"South Australia has always been a national leader in space innovation," the Premier said.
"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.
"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."
Minister Pyne said the 2016 Defence White Paper acknowledged space-based and space-enabled capabilities, and the vital role they play in Australian Defence Force and coalition operations.
Since then, SA Premier Jay Weatherill and ACT chief minister Andrew Barr signed a five-year agreement on behalf of their governments, signalling an intent to work together towards the creation of a Canberra-based space agency with a prominent presence in Adelaide.
"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," Weatherill said.
"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."
Minister Hamilton-Smith, who is also the state's defence industries minister, said the new centre is, along with advanced manufacturing across the defence industry, part of the state's plans to improve the economy.
"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," the minister 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."
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’.