National

Australia’s space agency launches in SA

By AAP Newswire

Scott Morrison is looking to the stars for economic and climate potential as Australia's space agency blasts off in Adelaide.

The prime minister, who attended the Australian Space Agency's official opening on Wednesday, wants Australia to secure a larger share of the global space economy - tipped to be worth $1 trillion by 2040.

"Space captures the imagination and inspires us all. It develops new technologies that improve life on earth and it offers huge economic and job opportunities," Mr Morrison said.

A mission control and space discovery centre will also be up and running within a year, offering visitors the chance to interact with astronauts through a live link to the International Space Station.

The event was attended by former NASA astronaut Andy Thomas, who was vocal in his support of Adelaide as an ideal location for the new centre.

Addressing the Australian Space Forum after the opening, Mr Morrison said the government was investing in a world-class satellite positioning capability in Australia.

He said the system would improve GPS accuracy, offering benefits for agriculture and the environment.

"Climate action now is about investing in space, investing in the technologies that help Australians deal with a changing climate," he said.

"This is why I welcome the broader debate that hopefully we are now having about the climate in which we are living because it's not just about one issue, it's about many, many issues."

Dr Megan Clark, head of the agency, said it currently employs 20 people and was "almost full", but would not elaborate on how many jobs it would eventually offer.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews said the goal was to triple the sector by 2030, creating an extra 20,000 positions and making it worth $12 billion domestically.

She said the space agency precinct, located on the site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital, would become a tourist attraction within the city.

"This is the first stage of Adelaide becoming the Houston of Australia," she said.

The Australian Space Agency has been in discussions over the past 18 months with NASA, Italy and Europe about opportunities to work together.

The government was also tipping $150 million into NASA's mission to Mars, with the money to help Australian businesses to get involved.