The South Australian government has thrown its hat in the ring to house a new Australian space agency.
The state wants to establish itself as a hub for space industry research and development, with the aim of providing an unprecedented opportunity for South Australia to further establish its presence in the high-tech world of space.
South Australian Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith said the state is a strong advocate for the growth and development of the space economy.
The Space Industry Association of Australia last month released its white paper Advancing Australia in Space to the federal minister for Industry Innovation and Science, calling for the Australian government to commit to a permanent national space program and establish an Australian space agency.
The SA cabinet last week considered the white paper and agreed to advocate for the establishment of an Australian apace agency based in Canberra, with South Australia as its operational centre.
"The creation of an Australian space agency with an operational centre in Adelaide will provide a number of benefits for South Australians. Similar to the defence industry, the space sector will deliver opportunities for manufacturers to transition to a high-technology, high-growth sector," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
"South Australian universities and their students will benefit from increased international R&D partnerships and research opportunities with flow through to STEM activities in our secondary schools. The space industry will provide high-value jobs for young South Australians.
"Australian space activity currently accounts for less than 1 per cent of the global US$323 billion industry. Increasing the focus on the space sector with the establishment of a national agency will be a fantastic way to increase Australia's share and grow our economy."
From 25-29 September 2017, Adelaide will host the International Astronautical Congress, which is expected to attract around 4,000 international and local delegates, including the world’s leading space agencies, making it one of the largest conferences held in the city and set to inject around $20 million into the local economy.
"The establishment of an Australian space agency is very topical for us as we lead into the world’s largest astronautical congress which is happening here in Adelaide in September 2017," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
With SA working to establish itself as a hub for space industry research and development, at least 60 local organisations with space-related expertise or the potential to apply expertise to the space value chain, have been identified in the state.
South Australia's ambitions are backed by advocacy body Defence SA which last year released a strategy detailing how the state can capitalise on the space industry.
"In recent years, the global space sector has undergone a significant evolution in technological development, knowledge dissemination and overall size. Between 1998 and 2015, space-sector growth was about three times the annual growth rate of the world's GDP," the Defence SA Space Innovation and Growth Strategy report said.
"In recent years, the space economy has experienced exponential global growth … revenue from space-related activities in 2015 was about US$323 billion, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 9.52 per cent from 1998 to 2015."
The report also said South Australia is well-positioned to benefit from the latest technological developments because it has:
- Significant capabilities across a range of space-related activities, including ground infrastructure and the processing of spatial information, and;
- A vibrant, innovative space ecosystem that includes a thriving hub of private enterprise, university and research organisations.