South Australia led the way in capitalising on current and future Defence projects, with other states following suit on many of its initiatives, such as Defence SA and defence industry advocates. Now the state is expanding its horizons and looking to become the home of Australia’s space capabilities.
Last week, SA Premier Jay Weatherill and inaugural Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith opened the South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), the first of its kind in the nation, and will this week host the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC).
Minister Hamilton-Smith spoke with Defence Connect on the back of his appointment to Space Industries Minister to discuss the state's future as a booming defence and space hub.
"SASIC will co-ordinate with the university sector and CRCs, it will co-ordinate with industry associations and individual companies and it will be co-ordinating with stakeholders to develop South Australia's capabilities in space," explained the minister.
"Space is a high growth sector, so we need to capture some of that."
Many international defence companies are expanding their portfolios into the space industry, most recently Northrop Grumman announced it is in the process of acquiring Orbital ATK, and as international primes like Boeing expand their Australian footprint in SA, Minister Hamilton-Smith said the new centre will work well with Defence SA in getting the best results for South Australia.
"South Australia sees five areas of science being the future of the state economy," explained the minister.
"One of them is advanced manufacturing through defence, the submarine and frigate programs and AIR programs are spearheading that movement from traditional manufacturing to advanced manufacturing.
"Another area is space. Keeping in mind that it's not about rockets alone, it's satellite communications, it's meteorology, it's air photography, it's all of the communications aspects of space, it's all of the peripherals that go around the launching of satellites and other things into space, that we see as the big opportunity. A lot of it's software related and niche engineering.
"[SASIC] has a strong defence application but its not exclusively defence, that's why we're creating a separate entity. We want to be able to deal in the non-defence related areas of space as enthusiastically as defence, that's why we're forming a separate stand-alone entity."
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.
This year also 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.
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 as part of the ‘SA Schools Space Mission’.