Joan Westenberg
June 27, 2019

State space race gathers pace

Space

State space race gathers pace

Woomera dreaming: Everyone wants a piece of space action

The Queensland government has ramped up efforts to snag a bigger slice of Australia’s nascent space sector, committing to the development of a Queensland Space Strategy to address space infrastructure, careers paths, and targeted STEM education.

The government agreed fully or in principle to all 15 recommendations of a State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee report on job creation opportunities that would arise from the creation of an Australian Space Agency.

The report was commissioned on the heels of the Federal Government’s creation of a national space agency, to investigate and research opportunities to activate Queensland as a potential industry hub.

While the Australian Space Agency itself will be based in South Australia, there are still wide ranging opportunities for other states to work towards building the fledgling industry.

Queensland’s State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick affirmed the government’s interests in expanding the sector’s capabilities.

“Following last year’s launch of the Queensland Aerospace 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan and this year’s Deloitte Access Economics report on Queensland’s space industry capabilities and potential economic growth, the Committee’s recommendations show that what’s needed now is to build on our strengths and accelerate industry growth,” Mr Dick said.

“The Australian Government has committed to establishing a national space industry. My vision is a future where Queensland is getting our share of the jobs and growth that will create.”

Queensland has already established a vision for the industry, with the formation of the Queensland Space Industry Reference Group (QSIRG) in June last year, and the release of the Aerospace 10-Year Roadmap the same month.

The roadmap highlighted the state’s advantages as a manufacturing hub for civil and defence aviation projects, and the presence of the $101 million autonomous defence cooperative research centre as building blocks for the space and aeronautical sector.

QSIRG chair air vice-marshal Neil Hart positioned the report and the government’s response as contributing to a strong future for Queensland’s space and aeronautical industries.

“Key enablers for the space industry include advanced manufacturing capabilities, a healthy R&D and innovation start-up ecosystem and solid base of people with STEM skills,” vice-marshal Hart said.

“Initiatives like the Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Defence Industries and Mining Equipment Technology and Services 10-Year Roadmaps and Action Plans, Schools of the Future STEM Strategy and the Advance Queensland suite of programs give this state a strong launch pad for space industries,” he said.

Australia’s space industry has become a central focus of the innovation agenda across the country.

In South Australia, the state government has been pushing its space agenda hard. The Australian Space Agency is to be headquartered at the Adelaide innovation hub, Lot Fourteen. The Marshall government last week announced a $600,000 boost for the Lot Fourteen Hub, earmarked to attract overseas companies and space tech to the hub.

Meanwhile, the NSW government last week unveiled the Australian Research Council’s Training Centre for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles and their Applications (CUAVA) led by the University of Sydney. CUAVA will work to develop training to support Australia’s space industry, with the Morrison Government backing the centre with $4.6m in support.

NSW senator Arthur Sinodinos highlighted the important role of both the Centre itself and the space sector in Australia.

“The international collaboration between leading universities, government and industry will fundamentally change the capabilities and applications of CubeSats, making the international satellite market more accessible and economical than ever before.”

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