Mission control, space discovery centres announced for Adelaide

The space industry is set to further take off in South Australia’s capital when a Mission Control Centre and Space Discovery Centre are established alongside the new Australian Space Agency.

The Mission Control Centre will provide a focal point for orbiting spacecraft and will be established alongside the national space agency within innovation precinct and former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, Lot Fourteen.

The Federal Government today announced a total $12 million investment into the nation’s space industry, including $6 million for the Mission Control Centre, and $6 million towards establishing a Space Discovery Centre, also at Lot Fourteen.

The funding will form part of the yet-to-be finalised Adelaide City Deal which is designed to boost the city’s population and drive economic growth.

Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says the Mission Control Centre will complement the work of the Australian Space Agency.

“The Mission Control Centre will be a focal point for space missions in Australia, providing facilities to control small satellite missions, enabling real-time control and testing and accelerated development of Australian satellite technology,” she says.

“It will be available for use by space start-ups and small-to-medium enterprise space businesses, as well as research and educational institutions from across Australia.

“These investments will help the Australian Space Agency foster the growth of a globally competitive space industry, worth about US$345 billion.”

An artist’s impression of Lot Fourteen once fully redeveloped. Photo: Renewal SA.

The Space Discovery Centre will provide science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, engagement and inspiration for young Australians, and activities such as mission simulation and training for university students.

SA Premier Steven Marshall told ABC Radio Adelaide on March 18 that youth in the state were already excited about the career and education prospects the Australian Space Agency will create.

“When I’m out speaking to people, especially young people, they’re pretty excited about this opportunity to have this facility here in SA,” he says.

“You speak to university students … they’re all talking about the space agency … when you have a focus on space it actually lifts people’s aspirations around studying STEM subjects at school, which has a flow-on effect for plenty of other industries around our state.”

Both the Mission Control Centre and Space Discovery Centre will complement the work of the Australian Space Agency, which is set to be up and running by mid-2019.

The national agency was established in July 2018 with a Federal Government investment of $41 million over four years. The government plans to triple the size of Australia’s space industry to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

In December 2018, it was announced that Adelaide had won the bid to host the agency, expected to allow Australia greater access to the US$345 billion global space sector.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide wins the race to host the Australian Space Agency

South Australia has won the bid to host the Australian Space Agency, which will oversee the nation’s burgeoning space industry.

The agency will be established at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) site, now known as Lot 14, by mid-2019 and will initially employ 20 full-time equivalent staff.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in Adelaide today (Wednesday, December 12) and says SA is a key hub for innovation and the technology industry, making it an ideal home for the new agency.

“Australia’s space industry is set to hit new heights,” he says.

“This agency is going to open doors for local businesses and Australian access to the US$345 billion global space industry.

“Our government’s $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia’s space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

“This agency is part of our plan for a stronger economy for SA and the country which is about delivering long-term, high-wage, high-skills jobs.”


SA Premier Steven Marshall says long-term investment in Adelaide and its space sector will drive entrepreneurship and innovation, and enhance the city’s liveability.

“SA is the ideal location for the Australian Space Agency with a range of local space industry businesses already established here as well as a rapidly growing defence industry sector,” he says.

“Establishing the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency in SA will launch our space and defence sectors to the next level.”

SA was up against strong competition from other states, with Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas throwing his support behind SA’s bid to host the national space headquarters.

Italian aerospace engineer Flavia Tata Nardini runs Fleet Space Technologies from SA.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews says Adelaide put forward the strongest case and is already home to more than 60 organisations and 800 employees in the space sector.

A number of space start-ups including Fleet Space Technologies and nano-satellites startup, Myriota, are based in SA.

The southern state also has a longstanding contribution to the nation’s space journey, with Australia’s first satellite launching from Woomera in the Far North in 1967.

The Australian Space Agency will be key to the new Adelaide City Deal, a scheme that aims to turbo charge the city’s economy and drive long-term investment.

Aside from the space agency, Lot 14 is also expected to include a start-up precinct and growth hub, an international centre for tourism, hospitality and food services, and a national Aboriginal art gallery.

The old RAH closed in September 2017 and has since undergone progressive demolition. The new $2.4 billion hospital is located further west along North Terrace.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Advanced manufacturing at the centre of our future opportunities

As South Australia transforms away from traditional manufacturing processes, innovative and sophisticated products and services are taking their place, creating new jobs and investment opportunities for the state.

Advanced manufacturing – the process of designing, building, integrating and sustaining innovative technologies for new and improved products – is an industry underpinning SA’s future by providing access to research and development.

For the month of September, the state’s advanced manufacturing industry will be under the magnifying glass as part of Brand South Australia’s successful I Choose SA campaign.

Brand SA News will bring you a collection of articles that delve into the success of businesses progressing in emerging technologies such as photonics, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, advanced materials and robotics.

Each month we’ll also bring you I Choose SA ambassadors who will share their triumphs, world-class innovations and thorough knowledge in their chosen fields.

This month we welcome I Choose SA ambassador Mark Fusco, founder and managing director of Adelaide-based consultancy, Advanced Focus, which is helping high tech businesses to “see the future”.

We’ll also deliver news from medical laser company Norseld, which has produced an Australian-first diamond-like carbon coating at room temperature using its laser platform CoolDiamond DLC.

The ground-breaking technology is creating opportunities for the state’s defence and aerospace industry, protecting equipment from high velocity airborne particles, seawater, engine fuels, oils and high humidity.

A robotic machine welds metal fasteners.

Aside from defence, other sectors including, software and simulation, medical devices and assistive technologies are a big part of the industry.

Our medical device manufacturers are creating products used in the best laboratories and surgeries in the world, from a gadget that removes the need for x-rays during orthopaedic surgery to technology using light to treat sleep apnoea and jet lag – it’s all happening right here.

Beyond the world of defence, medicine and additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing), more unsuspecting sectors like the food and beverage processing and packaging industry are benefiting from our technical skills base.

First up we bring you the story of longstanding local beverage manufacturer Bickford’s, which has transformed its bottling practices into a highly sophisticated and robotic process that is inspiring to watch.

These businesses aren’t alone in what they do, they’re supported by infrastructure including fast internet networks set to deliver one of the fastest and cheapest internet services in the world.

They will no doubt also rely on our city’s three world-class universities to deliver the employees of tomorrow in a range of leading innovation areas.

Brand South Australia will be hosting an Industry Briefing where guests can see how businesses have applied advanced manufacturing at the Tonsley Innovation Precinct.

High school and university students are invited to freely attend and hear from Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni and two industry experts.

Register for the event here.

I Choose SA for Advanced Manufacturing stories are made possible by City of Salisbury:

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas on why SA is great for space

By Melissa Keogh

South Australia’s spaceman Dr Andy Thomas was the boy from Adelaide who became the country’s first NASA astronaut.

Over two decades, the University of Adelaide’s most famous graduate embarked on four space flights, one spacewalk, and even worked alongside Hollywood’s elite on the 2013 film Gravity.

But what is the perennial question people always ask the veteran astronaut?

How do you go to the toilet in space?

Adelaide's own spaceman Dr Andy Thomas. PHOTO: NASA.

Every astronaut needs their own space portrait. Dr Andy Thomas is Adelaide’s own spaceman. PHOTO: NASA.

“Everyone asks that,” Dr Thomas tells the September 22 SA Press Club luncheon.

“I got to meet the Prime Minister of Japan one year and he asked all the attendants to leave.

“He said, ‘now that everyone has gone, let me ask you a question’.”

Dr Thomas doesn’t explain space toilet procedures, instead suggesting to “go to YouTube”.

“I get a lot of questions … what is it like to be weightless for 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Bizarre is the best way to describe it.

“What is it like to recover when you get back to earth? Also bizarre.”

Dr Andy Thomas was born in Adelaide in 1951.

In the 1970s he completed a bachelor’s degree and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Adelaide before moving overseas to work in the US aviation industry.

Throughout his NASA career, Dr Thomas spent 177 days in space.

One of his most memorable experiences was his third space mission in 2001 aboard the shuttle Discovery, during which he carried out a 6.5-hour spacewalk.

“I was high up in the solar array … I could see the space station below us, stretching out and beyond that is infinity. You could see this deep blackness of infinity,” Dr Thomas says.

“It was an amazing view.”

Dr Andy Thomas addresses the SA Press Club about the importance of Australia having a national space agency.

Dr Andy Thomas addresses the SA Press Club about the importance of Australia having a national space agency.

Dr Thomas’ visit to Adelaide comes as 3500 space industry experts descend upon the city for the 68th International Astronautical Congress from September 25–29.

On day one of the congress, the Federal Government announced a national space agency would be created in Australia to tap into the $420 billion industry and create thousands of jobs.

Australia is one of the world’s only developed countries without a national space agency.

Dr Thomas says space is as important to Australia as “railroads were in the early development of the country” and that SA is well-placed to play a part in the national agency.

“The Defence SA organisation put together a listing of all the companies in SA who are involved in space … there are over 50 of them so it’s a really big part of the SA economy,” he says.

Despite Australia lagging behind in the national space agency stakes, Dr Thomas applauded Premier Jay Weatherill’s recent announcement of a new space industry centre for SA.

He says the state is already competing in the space sector.

In 2013 Dr Thomas consulted on the space movie Gravity alongside Hollywood A-lister Sandra Bullock and he notes that Adelaide-based visual effects company Rising Sun Pictures generated scenes for the film.

“A lot of people say SA can’t compete in the space sector,” he says.

“Well, that’s an example where they do on the international stage.”

Watch the video below to see Andy Thomas in space.

Header photo courtesy of NASA.

This month’s I Choose SA for Industries stories are made possible by sponsor, the University of South Australia.


New space industry centre for South Australia

By Andrew Spence

A space industry centre is being established in Adelaide as part of South Australia’s push to grow the sector in Australia.

Launched today, the South Australian Space Industry Centre is an expansion of Defence SA’s Space Industry Office and aims to drive space industry innovation, research and entrepreneurial development.

This month Cabinet created an expanded portfolio of Defence and Space Industries for the state’s Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith.

The space centre will support SA’s emerging space industry by providing grant funding of up to $1m each year to space entrepreneurs, along with new and existing space startups.

It will be initially staffed by a core group of three workers: a director; aerospace specialist, and; senior project officer and be supported by Defence SA staff and a representative from the Department of State Development and Investment Attraction South Australia.

Today’s launch was held at Hamilton Secondary College, which has been earmarked as a specialist school for space studies.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, Defence and Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith, and Minister fro Education and Child Development Susan Close announce the space industries centre.

South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, Defence and Space Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith, and Minister fro Education and Child Development Susan Close announce the space industries centre.

The announcement comes as hundreds of the world’s space industry leaders begin arriving in Adelaide for next week’s 68th International Astronautical Congress.

Mr Hamilton-Smith says the state is working to establish itself as a hub for space industry research and development.

“We’re not talking about an agency the size of NASA that sends people to the moon,” he said.

“We are looking at capabilities that benefit society, communications and national security.”

SA has been a strong advocate of a campaign to establish a national space agency.

Last month the State Government joined forces with the ACT to lobby the Federal Government for an agency in a bid to shore up its local space industry.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said at least 60 local organisations with space-related expertise, or the potential to apply current expertise to the space value chain, had been identified in the state.

“The space economy is one of five key areas paramount in transitioning our local economy,” he said.

“You are not a credible player in this industry if you don’t have a have a space agency and a well-coordinated plan and the kinds of partnerships you need to get Australians into space require a space agency.”

The space congress is expected to attract about 3500 members of the global space industry to the Adelaide Convention Centre from September 25-29. Delegates will include the heads of all the major space agencies and Space X founder Elon Musk.

The Federal Government announced a review into the long-term plan for the sector in Australia in July, which will not be complete until March. Although this means any meaningful pledge of an Australian apace agency is unlikely at the congress, many expect a Turnbull Government pledge of some kind.

The space industry in Australia currently employs about 11,500 people and generates $4 billion a year in turnover – less than 1% of what the global industry is worth.

Defence SA released a report this month into the economic benefit of establishing a national space agency.

The report found that if Australia could replicate the performance of the UK space economy in its first eight years after the establishment of a national space agency in 2010, 11,700 jobs and an additional AU$5.3 billion would be generated annually, a 132 per cent improvement on current figures.

This would take the annual turnover of the industry in Australia from AU$4 billion this year to AU$9.3 billion in 2025 and the number of people working in the industry from 11,500 to 23,198.

This month’s I Choose SA for Industries stories are made possible by sponsor, the University of South Australia.