Australia’s space industry currently employs some 10,000 people and was worth AUD $3.9 billion in 2015/16 financial year with estimates the domestic space industry could grow to employ 20,000 people and be worth $12 billion over the next 10 years.
Local Yolŋu-owned business Gumatj Corporation, the Northern Territory Government and DEAL have supported Equatorial Launch Australia to develop the first commercial equatorial launch facility in Australia, to be based in East Arnhem. The Arnhem Space Centre is located on the Dhupuma Plateau, approximately 30 kilometres east of Nhulunbuy. The launch facility will initially be equipped with three launch pads to accommodate sub-orbital and small orbital satellite launch vehicles. The project will provide training and education, support job creation, drive innovation and development of new technologies, and attract new investment.
East Arnhem has the potential to be a major contributor to the growth of the space industry in Australia in both upstream and downstream economies. The global space industry was worth approximately USD $330 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow to USD $1 trillion by 2030.
A report released in September 2019 titled Australia Space Launch Assessment found that of the 1,645 satellites that were launched over the past five years (globally), 43% were theoretically accessible to a launch provider operating from an Australian launch site. Between 198 to 213 satellites could be launched from Australia over the 2024 to 2033 period. This would represent a total value of between US$750 to US$930 million.
Some of the advantages East Arnhem offers to the space industry include:
- It is located just 12 degrees from the equator allowing launch vehicles to leverage the earth’s rotation to gain extra velocity. This improves payload to fuel ratios providing significant cost savings over alternative global launch facilities.
- The region is sparsely populated, air traffic is minimal, and the nearby Gulf of Carpentaria has low activity, allowing for frequent, safe and efficient space launch and easy recovery.
- East Arnhem features tectonic stability (low risk of earthquakes) and consistent and favourable weather conditions.
Tangible opportunities also exist for future technology development within the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) testing and deployment sector. For the same reasons the East Arnhem region is well suited and supported for space launch, the UAV sector can leverage minimal airspace congestion and our large landmass to develop UAV solutions for disaster relief, medical response, forestry assessment, bushfire management, and many more applications.
For more information visit ela.space