Budding space industry professionals from around the world are currently in Adelaide for the annoual Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Programme – the first since the South Australian capital was announced as home of the Australian Space Agency.
This week 54 participants from 11 countries are taking part in the programme conducted by the University of South Australia in partnership with the International Space University, based in Strasbourg, France.
It is the eighth consecutive year Adelaide has hosted the month-long course but the first time since the city of 1.3 million was announced as the home of the new National Space Agency in December.
The SHSSP is designed for professionals involved in the international space sector, graduate researchers seeking broader knowledge of international space activities, and undergraduate students in the final two years of their studies seeking exposure to the various aspects of space studies.
This year’s participants hail from Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Malaysia, UAE and the USA.
The Australian Space Agency was officially launched on 1st July and received $41 million over four years from 2018-19 in the federal budget to “grow the Australian space industry,” including $26 million to help launch the agency which will “coordinate domestic space activities for Australia”.
The SHSSP is part of an extensive commitment to the space industry at UniSA, which has launched Venture Catalyst Space, an incubator programme to develop ideas from entrepreneurs and start-up companies in the space sector.
The university has also recently extended its relationship with the International Space University to support space entrepreneurship.
SHSSP Co-Director Dr Ady James is a Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Space and Climate Physics at University College London and an adjunct staff member at the University of South Australia.
Dr James said the recent announcement that Adelaide would be home to the Australian Space Agency further recognised South Australia’s well-established contribution to the industry.
“With a new Space Agency and the growth in interest in space in the community – especially among young people – there are opportunities for Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Programme alumni to create a critical mass of expertise in a variety of areas,” he said.
“The recent extension of the ISU and UniSA relationship agreement provides an opportunity to continue to expand this productive educational collaboration to support the wider space community.”
During the SHSSP, participants will design and build rockets in teams and then launch them with altitudes of up to 900 metres expected to be reached.
Participants will also launch a high-altitude balloon, which will carry a satellite payload designed to simulate a small satellite mission.
South Australia has been a major player in the nation’s space industry and is home to major Tier 1 defence companies and several emerging space start-ups, including Fleet Space Technologies and Myriota, which have between them launched four satellites in the past three months, and Southern Launch, which is establishing a launch facility in the state’s north.
The South Australia Space Industry Centre, launched in 2017, has been instrumental in helping establish the space sector ecosystem in the state and reports that there are more than 70 companies employing 800 people in the industry in South Australia, including Italian space company SITAEL.
The new national agency will be housed at Lot Fourteen, a former hospital site that is being transformed into a entrepreneur and defence hub, and will now fall within the Australian government’s City Deal scheme to drive long-term investment in the city.