Australian Space Park to foster international collaboration between SMEs

Australian Space Park artist impression

An artist impression of the Australian Space Park. Source: supplied.

Australia’s first dedicated space manufacturing hub will move the nascent industry from nationwide-scattered think tanks to ‘can-do’ capabilities.

The space park, to be located in Adelaide, South Australia, will turbocharge the growth of the Australian space sector by attracting more investment in R&D and fostering greater industry collaboration.

The founding tenants at the Australian Space Park are Q-CTRL, ATSpace, Fleet Space Technologies and Alauda Aeronautics.

Q-CTRL founder and CEO, Professor Michael J Biercuk said­­­ the hub will enable his company to expand their quantum tech expertise to the space sector.

“Our objective is to build and operate our own constellation of satellites.

“But we come at this problem with deep expertise in the quantum sensor payload, and not necessarily satellite manufacturing or launch.

“Our partners at Fleet Space and ATSpace, have expertise in the adjacent areas that can assist us in both the satellite manufacturing that we’ll undertake and also in bringing test payloads to orbit.”

Biercuk is excited about building on Q-CTRL’s work, which is closely aligned with defence sovereign capability, to help grow Australia’s space sovereign capability.

“This three-way collaboration or intersection between fields for us — space, defence and quantum — that is a combination that is extremely hard to match anywhere else in the world,” he said.

“Without the space park, we have very restricted means of interacting with others in any close way, who have the expertise we need to move into space manufacturing.”

Biercuk said the Sydney-based company have already started discussions about the build scope and facility development in the space park.

“We are expanding our footprint into South Australia,” he said.

“When the facility is nearing completion, that’s when we’ll start to be building out our organisation.”

Director of the South Australian Space Industry Centre, Tiffany Katchmar, said the hub will also help connect small and medium-sized businesses with industry primes, with the benefits flowing both ways.

“For the defence and space primes, obviously to work around the Australian space sector, they need to establish an Australian supply chain,” Katchmar said.

“By enabling the startups and SMEs to really improve their technical levels and manufacture at scale, that will bring them closer to the primes [and] working with and becoming part of these companies’ international supply chains. At the same time the hub will ready Australian companies for global commercial opportunities.”

Katchmar said the hub will play a role in having Australian companies commercialise their IP within the space sector.

“In the case of a company like Fleet, their business model is to vertically integrate. So, certainly, supporting them in reaching that goal is key,” she said.

“Sovereign capability, retaining the IP and future iterations of the IP here in Australia and selling the services to the world rather than selling the technology — that’s critical to us.

“It is absolutely critical to really building a robust sector and one with high value.”

The Australian government aims to triple the space sector’s contribution to GDP to over $12 billion per annum and create up to an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.

In the three years since the Australian Space Agency was formed, South Australia has become the hub for space industries in Australia, attracting established and emerging players.

This includes collaborations with NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the establishment of the SmartSat CRC and the presence of numerous successful startups such as the Inovor, Myriota, Fleet Space Technologies and Southern Launch.

This article was first published by The Lead South Australia.

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