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(Australian Associated Press)
A vision for the future to “go where no premier and prime minister has gone before” won Adelaide the right to host Australia’s new national Space Agency, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
Mr Morrison says the agency will enhance South Australia’s credentials as a hub for innovation and research as it opens doors for local companies to access the $US345 billion global space industry.
It will also drive the growth of the national space sector from $4 billion and employing 10,000 people at present to $12 billion and employing 20,000 people by 2030.
“This is what vision looks like,” Mr Morrison said.
“When we first starting discussing this (Premier) Steven Marshall had one message for me and that was ‘beam me up Scotty’.
“So as a premier and a prime minister we will go where no premier and prime minister has gone before when it comes to the space agency here South Australia.”
The federal government has already invested $41 million with the agency to have its office established by mid-2019 on part of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, employing about 20 people.
Former CSIRO chief executive Megan Clark has been appointed to lead the organisation and said the agency would grow and transform the local space industry.
“We’re already getting support from around the world and from industry,” Dr Clark said.
“We’ve got a pipeline over the next three years of over $1 billion of capital being invested in the space industry.
“This is going to be a hotbed of creativity.”
A key role for the agency will be to help local companies break into the supply chains of major global players in space technology and space infrastructure.
But Federal Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said nothing, including direct involvement by Australian companies in the exploration of space, was being ruled out.
“There are already satellite launches that are happening in Australia,” Ms Andrews said.
“So launch is part of our capability and we’re already setting up strategic alliances with other nations.
“We will continue to build and grow the sector and who knows where that may take us.”
Mr Marshall said he regarded South Australia as the ideal home for the space agency given its historical connection to the sector dating back to Australia’s first rocket launches from Woomera, including the launch of the nation’s first satellite.
He said Australian astronaut Andy Thomas also played a key role “right from the get go”.
“He talked about the need to have a national space agency. The importance of how this would drive innovation right across the Australian economy,” Mr Marshall said.
“He explained it in a logical and calm way, but he did needle us a bit because he said we were the only OECD country in the world that didn’t have a space agency.”