Queensland could soon add a rocket range to the list of tourist attractions in the iconic Whitsunday region with Gilmour Space Technologies getting state government support for a launch facility at Abbot Point.
Queensland deputy premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the government was committed to the development of a launch infrastructure in the state and has given Gilmour Space the green light to proceed with its development application for a small rocket launch pad at the Abbot Point State Development Area.
The announcement follows a technical and environmental investigation into the potential of Abbot Point as a suitable location for small-scale launch vehicles had come back positive and Gilmour Space had expressed an interest in the site, Mr Miles said.
Queensland had a number of home-grown advantages as a central location for the Australian space industry and the state is investigating a strategy that would include multiple launch facilities.
“Growing our space industry in Queensland will add billions to the economy and create thousands of local jobs. That’s why we are committed the development of launch infrastructure,” Mr Miles said.
“Our easterly facing position, proximity to the equator, and our leading launch and propulsion companies make Queensland the perfect place to invest in space,” he said.
The state’s strategic defence advisor for aerospace, former Air Vice-Marshal Neil Hart, said launch facilities were one of the foundational elements of developing a true sovereign capability.
“There is considerable interest in leveraging the geographic advantage of an East coast launch from low latitudes,” Mr Hart said.
“Identifying a site along the Queensland coast with the potential to launch multiple and large payloads to a range of nationally significant orbits would be a significant contribution to Australia’s growing space capabilities.”
Gilmour Space co-founder and head of launch operations James Gilmour said the Abbot Point site would give the company’s customers access to “a range of valuable orbits, inclinations, and altitudes that they will require.”
The company is also exploring a proposed launch site in South Australia for complementary polar orbits, in line with Gilmour’s ‘All Orbits, All Planets’ corporate vision for Gilmour Space.
The deputy premier said in addition to this ongoing work, the next actions of our strategy will be underway, including working with the space industry to support the development of a rocket engine test site and an Earth observation data analytics hub.
“These projects align with Queensland’s strengths, will boost our economic recovery and will help ensure the growth of our space industry is all systems go,” Mr Miles said.
For Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, developing a launch site at Abbott Point would deliver a huge economic boost for the region and create hundreds of permanent job opportunities for Bowen and Whitsunday residents.
“For too long Bowen has been the next “boom town” in north Queensland so adding a space launch site to our expanding agriculture, mining and tourism sectors will be a game-changer for our region.
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