While announcing a new space studies program, South Australia has continued to call on the federal government to establish a national space agency headquarters in Canberra, but with an operational base in Adelaide.
In April this year, SA Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith pushed for the agency, on the back of the Space Industry Association of Australia's white paper Advancing Australia in Space.
On Wednesday, the minister said the state government will continue to lobby in favour of the proposal, with a view to SA hosting the business, science and operational elements of the agency’s work.
"The creation of an Australian space agency with an operational centre in Adelaide will provide a number of benefits for South Australians," Minister Hamilton-Smith said.
"Similar to the defence industry, the space sector will deliver opportunities for manufacturers to transition to a high technology, high growth sector.
"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. Education is a key element of our focus on space."
The minister also put the federal government on notice, saying if it fails to act soon, SA will consider working with other states to lead the charge.
Minister Hamilton-Smith also said the newly announced space studies program will see five students receive $10,000 each to participate in the University of South Australia's highly regarded 2018 Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program.
The scholarships will enable five South Australians to participate in the intensive five-week, live-in summer school program and gain valuable skills to forge a career in the high technology space industry.
"International assessment data shows we need to do more to engage students in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education to foster sustained improvement and excellence in our students in mathematics, science and problem solving," the minister said.
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"The scholarships for the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program will provide a terrific stepping stone for five South Australians to get a foot in the door in the lucrative space industry."
The scholarships will cover all tuition, accommodation and meal costs for the five participants. The program attracts over 40 participants from around the world to undertake multidisciplinary professional training in key areas of knowledge for professionals in the space sector.
"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," Minister Hamilton-Smith.
The scholarships were announced ahead of the SA government’s third Space Forum, which will feature a number of high profile speakers, including from venture capitalist Blackbird Ventures and the South Australian start-up they funded, Fleet Space Technologies.
The forum is part of a series of ongoing events bringing together key players from the state’s growing space industry in the lead up to the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in September.
The IAC will be held in Adelaide from 25-29 September 2017, attracting more than 4,000 delegates from around the world, including NASA delegates, SA-born astronaut Andy Thomas, and space veteran Buzz Aldrin. The event will inject around $25 million into the state’s economy.