New mission control centre launches SA as Australia’s space hub

Adelaide is set to become the home of a mission control centre, with a local nanosatellite company securing funding for its construction.

Fleet Space Technologies, which is currently engaged in multiple projects across the globe, landed a Future Jobs Fund grant for the construction of the project known as Mission Control South Australia.

The local business said the project will create 17 ongoing jobs in IT and advanced manufacturing, more than doubling its current staff numbers. Five additional jobs are expected to be created during construction.

The state government awarded Fleet Space Technologies a $500,000 Future Jobs Fund grant that will be matched by a $500,000 investment in the facility from Fleet Space Technologies, with new positions created to include mission operators, network operations specialists and technical support staff.

The funding means Fleet Space Technologies will be able to run the mission control centre in Adelaide using local, in-house employees, and staff the centre 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. The first of Fleet’s planned constellation of 100 nanosatellites is set to be launched this year.

Fleet Space Technologies chief executive Flavia Tata Nardini said the company has plans to go global but is focused on growing its business in Adelaide.

"We want to put South Australia on the map as a space hub," Tata Nardini said.

"While we have global ambitions, it is important to us that we continue to contribute to our local economy as we scale. This grant enables us to create technical jobs that will grow the space industry here in Adelaide.

"South Australia is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that a space industry will bring."

South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the funding is a win for South Australian workers, Fleet Space Technologies, as well as the state's growing space industry sector.

"We’re backing innovative companies like Fleet Space Technologies because it’s these firms that are creating the exciting employment opportunities that will keep our children and young people in South Australia," Koutsantonis said.

"This Future Jobs Fund grant means that instead of outsourcing mission control services overseas, these highly-skilled jobs can be created here in Adelaide.

"This is a fantastic project that will strengthen South Australia’s bourgeoning space industry and attract the best and brightest to our state."

Last year, South Australia joined forces with the ACT in pushing for a national space agency. South Australia has since established its own space agency, South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC), which is building 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.

"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."

Former SA minister for defence and space industries Martin Hamilton-Smith said SASIC 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," Hamilton-Smith said.

Both the SA and federal governments have said an Australian space agency and national strategy for the sector aligns with Australian government priorities, including defence.

In July this year, the federal government announced a review into the nation’s space capabilities, which Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne welcomed.

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.

"The government has recently announced new investment in Australia’s space capabilities," Minister Pyne said.

On 10 July, the government announced that Australia’s deployed forces will receive a major communications boost with a $223 million contract with Northrop Grumman Australia for the acquisition, construction and support of a new satellite ground station.

Minister Pyne said the government’s support for the role that Australian industry plays in supporting ADF operations and the capability needed to protect Australia’s national interests.

"This government plans to invest around $200 billion in Defence capability over the next 10 years, of which space capabilities will be an important part. This will provide opportunities for industry growth and employment," he said.



New mission control centre launches SA as Australia’s space hub
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