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Doorstop – Lot Fourteen, Adelaide

18 March 2019

Subject: Australian Space Agency, Mission Control Centre and Space Discovery Centre


The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP held a doorstop alongside South Australian Premier Steven Marshall, Head of the Australian Space Agency Dr Megan Clark and Dr Matthew Tetlow from space company Inovor after the announcement that a Mission Control Centre and Space Discovery Centre would be built at the same location as the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide.

Question: [to Minister Andrews] ... Premier Berejiklian’s nose was right out of joint that Sydney or New South Wales didn’t get the [Space] Agency in the first place. Are other states screaming that we need [a] bit of this action as well?

Karen Andrews: Well I make my decisions for all of Australia so I have committed to continue to work with every state and territory government to make sure that they are able to have a slice of the space sector in Australia. We won’t be basing everything in South Australia. There were strong reasons for establishing the Space Agency here and for establishing Mission Control and the Discovery Centre. But I will continue to work with other states and territories about how we can grow the space sector right across Australia.

Question: Maybe for the Premier if you don’t mind. Just give us a sense Premier, how hard you had to fight to get Mission Control here and did you have to ward off threats from New South Wales, ACT and Victoria?

Steven Marshall: Look, on coming to government we formed the view that we should put in the strongest bid possible. I've got to say we had support from right across the sector, the universities, the entire parliament all working together with a bid, which I think was the most competitive and the most compelling. We've also created a wonderful precinct to base the Space Agency and I think that's what our Space Agency in Australia is about. It's not about landing somebody on Mars; what it is about is using the wonderful opportunities in space to drive further productivity in Australia. We've got particular expertise in South Australia around Nanosat technology, smart-sat technology. I think this is a big part of what we have to offer to the Australian Space Agency. But as the Minister said, every single state and territory has some contribution to make to the establishment of the Australian Space Agency. We are of course delighted that we will be hosting the headquarters here and now even more delighted that Mission Control and the Space Discovery Centre will also be based here at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide.

Question: So Premier, how important is it in this whole process that the public is engaged in seeing and being able to see what goes on?

Steven Marshall: Well the Space Discovery Centre, it will be an enormously useful resource to demonstrate to the people of our state, young people, older people, exactly what the implications and the opportunities are for space here in South Australia and globally. We're really super excited about this. And can I say when I'm out talking to people, I'm stopped in the street, especially by young people, university students, who find it inspiring that Australia's Space Agency is going to be based here in Adelaide. And I think it's something that every single South Australian can be very, very proud about.

Question: And is that 24 hours a day, the public can come in and see it? I guess, space doesn’t run between nine and five.

Steven Marshall: No basically, 9 and 5. No, no. [Laughs] No of course-

Question: [Indistinct].

Steven Marshall: That's right Mike. No look, the Space Discovery Centre will be a great resource. The final planning is being done on exactly where it's going to be located on Lot Fourteen, exactly what the offering is going to be and we're looking forward to sharing those detailed plans with people very, very soon.

Question: Could we also have a quick chat with Matthew. Do you want to just have a quick chat with us?

Karen Andrews: Put him on the spot [indistinct].

Question: From your company’s perspective, just how significant is today’s announcement and what Inovor does?

Matthew Tetlow: Well, it’s really important. I mean, we’re building satellites, we're building one for the CSIRO. And while the mission office hasn't really been sorted out yet, you know, now that there's a facility here I think it's very- makes a lot of sense to have it operated out of here. And this is not the only satellite, we expect to have many more and we want to operate as many as we can and I guess having it locally in South Australia is perfect for us. So I think it’s fantastic.

Question: I’ve got a question maybe for Dr Clark. How does it work at the moment in terms of [indistinct], do Fleet have their own mini mission control? Do other people have sort of smaller, their own ops now all [are] being brought together?

Megan Clark: That’s a wonderful question. So if you’re a small company setting up and putting assets into space like Fleet, like Myriota and like Inovor, you would have to invest in your own connection with space as to how you control your satellites, how you receive information. By opening up a Mission Control that can be used by small and medium sized enterprises, it means that they can get there faster and they can use a shared facility. When they grow up to be a larger company they’ll probably want their own, but this allows them to get moving quickly. We have a lot of catch up to do in Australia, we need to catch up and get Australia positioned globally and so we want to make sure that small to medium sized enterprises can really make that jump. So just as Inovor, as Matthew was saying, this now allows Inovor to be able to use a tracking station and to be able to communicate with their assets in space and that’s what the Mission Control is all about.

Question: And will you be able to see it like everyone does picture the movies and I’ve just been to Houston, is that what we - looking at [indistinct] screens everywhere…

Megan Clark: Yeah absolutely. Well it’ll be a more modern version of Houston. So we also want the public to be able to see this. So we will use Mission Control as well for, as we plan joint missions with other agencies. And Australia is part of missions, we will also use Mission Control here to connect to and receive live feed from those missions. We want the public to be able to see actively what our scientists, what our teams are doing to be able to witness it first hand and see what jobs are like in the space industry and they’ll be able to do that as we connect Mission Controls through the Discovery Centre.

Question: The Premier says it's not to land a man on or a person on Mars; would you like to see that happen ultimately, one day in the future?

Megan Clark: We don't limit our vision in the Australian Space Agency and we are looking in the long term around how we participate in joint missions. We do need to work with other countries in partnership and we’re working on those partnerships right now. So hopefully we can bring you news as our partnerships progress, which missions we will be part of.

So thank you very much.