Last updated January 9, 2019 at 11:16 am
The national agency has announced it will be headquartered at a new high-technology development in Adelaide.
The Australian Space Agency, led by Megan Clark, will establish its national headquarters in the Adelaide CBD.
The HQ, which will open mid-2019 and initially house 20 people, will become the centre for Australia’s burgeoning space industry.
South Australia beat bids from several states including Victoria and Western Australia to become the agency’s home. However, the national agency will retain a national focus and presence, with the aim of building Australia’s industry to an annual revenue of $12 billion and employing 20,000 people by 2030.
This national focus will likely see nodes of the agency established in other states to foster industry development.
“It will benefit all States and Territories. Each has a unique effort that can be leveraged to benefit the nation, regardless of where the organisation that brings this all together is based,” says Professor Alan Duffy, an astronomer at Swinburne University in Melbourne.
The immediate focus of the space agency will not be on developing a launch facility or astronaut program. Instead the Australian Space Agency will work towards developing national policy and strategies, and coordinating and fostering the local industry along those strategies.
In particular, the agency will set priorities around communications technologies, Earth Observation, space debris, remote asset management, and development of emerging technology. This is likely to involve small low-cost satellites that enable the Internet of Things, allowing remote management of systems. Additionally, technologies that improve monitoring of bushfires, water resources, fisheries and agriculture, as well as defence capabilities will be encouraged.
The headquarters will be housed at Lot 14, an inner-city high-technology development on the site of Adelaide’s former Royal Adelaide Hospital.
South Australia’s best known previous contribution to the space race is the Woomera Test Range, which in 1967 was the launch site of Australia’s first satellite, WRESAT1. With that launch, Australia became only the third country to design, build and launch its own satellite.
Woomera has also been the scene of numerous rocket test programs, as well as being the landing site for the Japanese space agency’s Hayabusa 1, which in 2010 became the first mission to return material from an asteroid to Earth. The follow up mission, Hayabusa 2 will also return asteroid material to Earth, landing in Woomera in 2020.
It is unlikely any future launch facility will be located at Woomera, however, with locations further north being better suited technically for satellite launches.
The agency also unveiled its new logo.
Described as representing our past, present and future, the brand is said to reflect the knowledge and contributions of Indigenous astronomers. Initially appearing as an abstract representation of Australia, the agency says the logo depicts significant Indigenous star constellations which represent dreamtime stories. The image is made up of eight Aboriginal constellations and star maps, including the emu in the sky and the seven sisters.
“We wanted a brand that would not only reflect our role and our values, but would also reflect our unique position as the Australian Space Agency. We celebrate our earliest cultural connection with space and Australia’s unique geographical position in the Agency’s new identity, capturing our past, present and future,” says Clark of the brand.