The Australian Space Agency has officially opened its new Adelaide headquarters, with the Federal Government predicting activities at the site will help to triple the size of the nation's space industry.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison opened the agency's new home this morning, saying it will provide local companies with opportunities to capitalise on Australian involvement in NASA's plans to launch human missions to Mars.
Head of the agency, Dr Megan Clark, said a small mission control centre inside the Australian Space Discovery Centre — which is based at the site — would open next year.
"What will be unusual is the mission control will be right here and we will have glass at the back so people can come in off the street and see what we are doing," she said.
"We want kids and people to be able to see what's happening on the lunar surface, to be able to see what's happening in real time on the lunar orbiter, and eventually to be able to come and say 'I wonder what's happening on Mars today', and come in and see people in action.
"No other agency has opened their mission control up in that way."
Deputy head of the agency Anthony Murfett said the mission control centre would also allow stronger collaboration with other space agencies.
"Our businesses will be doing their activities to control satellites right here in Adelaide," he told ABC Radio Adelaide.
"We will work with our international counterparts to show a feed of what is actually happening in space."
During a visit to the US last year, the Prime Minister committed $150 million over five years to help Australian businesses get involved in US President Donald Trump's plans for missions to the Moon and Mars.
Mr Morrison said the global space economy was forecast to be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040, and that Australia needed to position itself to take advantage.
"[The] space industry … is growing faster than the global economy, faster than our regional economy," he said.
"We're investing almost $700 million into the space sector, including $150 million into Australian businesses so they can pick up more work and support more jobs by partnering with NASA's Moon-to-Mars initiative."'
Agency will help space industry 'triple in size'
Federal Science Minister Karen Andrews said the launch of the space agency would help deliver on previous promises of jobs.
"Currently the space industry in Australia employs about 10,000 people and is worth about $3.9 billion," she said.
"The plan that we have in place, that we are currently implementing, will grow the space industry here in Australia to triple in size to $12 billion and to employ an additional 20,000 people by 2030."
Ms Andrews said growth occupations would be diverse, and include astrophysicists, scientists, engineers and electricians.
Adelaide was revealed as the home of the new space agency in 2018, fending off strong competition from other states to secure the headquarters.
The agency is based at Lot Fourteen, the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site in Adelaide's CBD.
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Mr Morrison toured the site this morning alongside Ms Andrews, Dr Clark and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.
Mr Marshall said South Australia was now at the forefront of the nation's space endeavours.
"We are now, without a doubt, the space capital of the nation," he said.
"Young people from across the state have the opportunity to seize incredible jobs across the sector, right here in South Australia."
Despite these grand ambitions, Dr Clark said the agency would itself only employ a modest number of staff.
"We have 20 people here — we have 19 and we've got one more to go. Even on opening day we are almost full up there," she said.
"This is now a door that we can showcase when we have our international visitors.
"Opening that door internationally, with the United Kingdom, with France, with what we're doing with NASA on the Moon-to-Mars [initiative] … this is an important role."