Despite global economic slowdown, growth and investment in South Australia’s space industry continues to skyrocket – and now, the state is looking to the stars to reignite its economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many high-growth and agile South Australian companies and start-ups continue to innovate through the pandemic and are bullish about their prospects as the nation prepares for economic recovery.

South Australian Space Industry Centre Chief Executive Richard Price said South Australia’s space sector will be critical to driving economic growth, helping creating hundreds of new jobs over the next decade.

“There’s no question the pandemic has created a high-pressure environment for South Australia’s space sector, and many companies and entrepreneurs face unprecedented challenges, but our industry is resilient and will emerge stronger than ever,” Price said.

“South Australia’s space sector growth target projects above average growth of 5.8% for the next ten years, so we are very optimistic about the future of this industry.”

Even in the most difficult circumstances, South Australia’s space industry embraces uncertainly. Innovation is alive, international cooperation is strong, and missions are continuing.

Just last month, South Australian company Southern Launch’s proposal to establish a sub-orbital rocket testing facility in Whalers Way, near Port Lincoln, received the green light by the Australian Space Agency. It is the company’s second site in South Australia, and the only two in Australia, to be licensed by the Agency, giving the sector confidence in the state’s emerging launch capabilities and space infrastructure.

Other local start-ups continue to reach for the stars, scaling up and attracting global attention with revolutionising space technologies. South Australian nanosatellite pioneer, Fleet Space Technologies, launched its sixth small satellite – Centauri 4 – into orbit, with plans for a further 16 to be launched by 2023.

South Australia’s mission to launch its first locally manufactured nanosatellite to space is taking shape, with the joint project successfully completing a preliminary design review. Bringing together valuable players across government, industry and academia, the SASAT1 Space Services Mission is on track for launch in mid-2022. The satellite will remain in low Earth orbit for at least five years to monitor the state’s weather and natural environment.

Despite the challenging economic environment, some of South Australia’s pandemic-hit space companies are still managing to raise capital for their ground-breaking ventures. Space-tech start-up, Digantara, raised $2.5 million in seed funding from one of India’s leading early-stage venture capital firms, Kalaari Capital. The funding will accelerate the company’s development of pioneering space-based surveillance technology to ensure safe space operations.
These are all hard-won achievements in the midst of a global pandemic, and they speak volumes about the tenacity of South Australia’s space industry.

The industry’s growth and ongoing success will be brought to the fore at the Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s 12th Australian Space Forum, held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Wednesday, 15 September 2021. The Forum will be an opportunity for our leaders, industry experts, researchers and entrepreneurs to shape the nation’s future in space, which is now more important than ever during these challenging and uncertain times.