South Australia on a mission to space Wednesday, 27 March 2019

A former hospital is being transformed into an innovation district that will include a mission control centre for orbiting spacecraft and a space discovery centre for STEM education.

The mission control centre, to be constructed in the prominent city location in Adelaide, will complement the work of the Australian Space Agency that will also be onsite.

The Space Discovery Centre is set to provide STEM education, as well as "engagement and inspiration for young Australians" along with activities such as mission simulation and training for tertiary education.

Lot Fourteen, as the new innovation district is currently known, will also house a variety of space and defence related start-ups and the Office of South Australia's Chief Entrepreneur Jim Whalley, the Australian Industry, Science and Technology Minister, Karen Andrews said.

“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 the accelerated development of Australian satellite technology,” she explained.

“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."

One such business, Myriota, a satellite communications company based in Adelaide, has just seen former NASA astronaut Pamela Melroy join its board as it moves towards its goal of building 50 nano-satellites. Melroy is a former space shuttle commander and ex-DARPA Deputy Director of the Tactical Technology Office, which shows the precinct is attracting international as well as domestic aerospace engineers and other professionals.

Minister Andrews believes the investment in Lot Fourteen will help the Australian Space Agency "foster the growth of a globally competitive space industry worth about US$345 billion”.

The Australian Space Agency was officially launched in July last year and is expected to co-ordinate domestic space activities for Australia. In December 2018, Prime Minister Scott Morrison forecast the agency would boost Australia's space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030.

South Australia is already home to global Tier 1 defence companies and a growing ecosystem of space start-ups, including Fleet Space Technologies. Along with Myriota, they have launched four satellites between them in recent months. Another company, Southern Launch, is establishing a launch facility in the state’s north.