Cartoonist Harry Bruce's take on the proposal for a rocket launch site at Abbot Point.
Cartoonist Harry Bruce's take on the proposal for a rocket launch site at Abbot Point.

Space launch plan could result in jobs bonanza

A PROPOSAL to launch rockets into space from Abbot Point is tipped to create thousands of jobs by 2036 and pump millions into our economy.

As part of a wider plan to lure businesses in "future" industries to Queensland, the State Government will begin consultation to become an Australasian leader in space launch technologies.

The Abbot Point State Development Area was identified as a potential location to develop an orbital rocket launch site based on technical, operational, environmental and infrastructure-related considerations.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the next steps would involve detailed technical inspection and due diligence on the proposed site to confirm the location was suitable for a space launch facility.

"If the findings are positive, the next stages include market sounding and wider public consultation," she said.

Ms Gilbert said her government was serious about its investment into the space industry, highlighting it as a vital part to the state's economic recovery efforts.

"We're investing in this industry because it has huge capacity to create jobs for locals and pump millions of dollars back into our economy," she said.

"To rebuild our economy and create jobs, we must work with the private sector to develop new industries.

"This is a perfect example."

 

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

 

Mrs Gilbert said targeted consultation with Whitsunday Regional Council, traditional owners, local landholders and other potential users of the site would also begin soon.

State Development Minister Kate Jones said the space industry in this state already supported more than 2000 jobs and generated $760 million in annual revenue for Queensland businesses.

"We want to grow these numbers and ensure local businesses get a piece of the action," she said.

"The proposal for a launch site at Abbot Point has the ability to launch the industry forward and contribute to the goal of up to 6000 space industry jobs by 2036.

 

State Development and Innovation Minister Kate Jones. Picture: Attila Csaszar
State Development and Innovation Minister Kate Jones. Picture: Attila Csaszar

"Space is a multi-trillion-dollar global industry. But launch sites are few and far between.

"Having a launch site would give us a huge point of difference and would enable us to bring more global players here to Queensland.

"This is about creating jobs for locals and opportunities for local companies at a time they need it most.

"We've said very clearly through our Industry Attraction Fund that we want to do business with companies that want to establish themselves in Queensland and create local jobs.

"Today's announcement could potentially help us to lure more of these businesses to Queensland in the future."

A Deloitte Access Economics report found that a launch site and space-related infrastructure would be catalytic for the space industry - providing more research, development and market opportunities for Queensland.

Queensland's Strategic Defence Adviser for Aerospace Neil Hart said the state's research sector was leading the nation in space launch vehicle development.

"Queensland's space industry has been calling for space launch infrastructure here in Queensland, to take it to lift off and firm up Australia's sovereign capability," Air Vice Marshal Hart (retired) said.

"This could be an awe-inspiring opportunity for the region and Queensland, bringing more jobs and new career paths for the workforce."

CQUniversity Dean of Research Professor Steven Moore last month said Bowen was an "excellent" spot to develop a regional rocket hub.

 

Professor Steven Moore with astronaut and commander of Expedition 43 Terry Virts, after post-flight testing at Johnson Space Center in Houston in 2015.
Professor Steven Moore with astronaut and commander of Expedition 43 Terry Virts, after post-flight testing at Johnson Space Center in Houston in 2015.

Prof Moore said the university had been working with the State Government, Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac councils, and Gold Coast based rocket manufacturer Gilmour Space on Launch Whitsundays, a commercial satellite launch complex in the Abbot Point State Development Area near Bowen.

"One of the biggest gaps Australia has in the space industry in comparison to the US is not having a commercial launch facility," he said.

"If this proposal goes ahead all the different satellite and rocket companies around Australia and the world will be able to use the complex.

"The Bowen region of Queensland is an excellent location for a launch base, being only 20 degrees south of the equator rockets can harness the earth's rotation to slingshot eastward to achieve both equatorial and polar orbits with less fuel.

"Bowen's dry subtropical climate is ideal, and the region has considerable manufacturing and transport infrastructure, and the state development area around Abbot Point has plenty of space to ensure a safe buffer zone around the launch site."



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