Australia’s defence industry is set to benefit from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement that Adelaide will become the permanent home of the Australian Space Agency.
Establishing the Australian Space Agency (ASA) at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide will promote more opportunities to deliver innovation, develop the dual use, skilled workforce in South Australia and integrate key defence companies and expand their supply chains into the national space industry ecosystem.
Developed on the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, Lot Fourteen is being transformed into one of the nation's premier technology innovation hubs, playing home to defence, cyber security, artificial intelligence and space companies.
Lot Fourteen will also serve as a Defence Landing Pad and will be overseen by Defence SA, providing immediate access to affordable, short-term office facilities co-located with other like-minded companies and industry associations.
BAE Systems Australia, which has a long involvement in space sector and a number of current programs with space-related applications, welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement.
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Gabby Costigan said the establishment of the Australian Space Agency will promote more opportunities to deliver innovation, grow our skilled workforce and expand our local supply chain across Australia.
"Some of our key technologies that have potential for use in space include advanced sensors suitable for small satellites and high frequency surveillance systems, based on the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, both providing a step change in space surveillance capability," Costigan said.
Costigan added, "Our JSF and optics advanced manufacturing techniques have application in the production of CubeSats. Combined with our expertise and experience in guidance and control systems for rockets and hypersonic flight vehicles, we have a strong capability to conduct modelling of flight vehicles, missiles and rockets."
Richard Price, chief executive of the South Australian Space Industry Centre welcomed yesterday's announcement, saying it would build on the state's long history of involvement and support for Australia's defence and space industries.
"Our state has a thriving space industry, world-leading educational institutes and a strong culture of innovation – all essential ingredients for the growth and development of Australia’s space industry," he said.
"Space underpins our economic transformation towards a future built on advanced manufacturing, knowledge-intensive and research-driven industries."
Global aerospace, defence and high technology company Lockheed Martin recently established a machine learning hub in partnership with the University of Adelaide at Lot Fourteen.
Rod Drury, managing director Australia at Lockheed Martin Space, said, "Lockheed Martin Australia welcomes the announcement to base Australia’s Space Agency in Adelaide and looks forward to working with Agency to grow a globally competitive space industry for Australia."
These comments were reinforced by Thales Australia, with a spokesperson saying, "Thales welcomes today’s announcement by the federal government on the location of the Australian Space Agency. Thales in Australia benefits from Thales Alenia Space’s experience and expertise, whose architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures."
Global space giant Boeing's local subsidiary, Boeing Defence Australia, said the company looked forward to working with the Australian government and the Australian Space Agency, building on decades of relationships across the defence sector locally.
"Boeing welcomes the Australian government’s announcement that South Australia will be home to the new Australian Space Agency. For more than 50 years, Boeing and its heritage companies have been integral in every major endeavor beyond Earth’s gravity," a Boeing spokesperson told Defence Connect.
"We look forward to more opportunities in Australia to continue this tradition, expand our business in South Australia and partner with the Australian government as we have with NASA and other space agencies for decades."
Political questions remain
Centre Alliance senator for South Australia Rex Patrick welcomed the news, while remaining cautious about the future of the Space Agency headquarters, saying, "Centre Alliance welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Australian Space Agency is to be located in Adelaide.
"However, the Australian Space Agency’s future is far from assured, given senator Kim Carr, the Labor innovation, industry, science and research spokesperson, has been stridently advocating for the space headquarters to be located in Canberra."
The cross pollination between defence and space technologies, particularly across the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and earth observation sectors will provide immense opportunities for Australia's defence industry to leverage skills, expertise and experience from across the two sectors.
Lot Fourteen is a seven-hectare redevelopment site that aims to drive jobs growth in these fast growing industries as well as blockchain, robotics and related technologies, with around 1,000 people expected to be working at the site by late 2019.