14/12/2020

South Australia’s burgeoning space sector is creating job opportunities for today and the tomorrows to come.

man in sunset horizon with balloon

The coming of both the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the Defence and Space Landing Pad to Lot Fourteen, in Adelaide’s CBD, is propelling a constellation of new employment opportunities for this generation and the next.

The ASA opened shop in Adelaide early this year, beginning work almost immediately on setting up the Australian Space Discovery Centre (ASDC) and Mission Control Centre, to be co-located with the agency at its North Terrace site. While new jobs are already being created during construction, it is the information and inspiration to be displayed inside the new facilities that will pave the way to new careers now and into the future.

At the heart of the ASDC, to open in 2021, will be a Careers Information Hub, complete with interactive screens that allow the curious to drill down into emerging space industry careers. Anyone will be able to use the Hub, with career information organised around the seven national civil space priority areas identified by the Australian Government for the development of the industry.

One such priority area is Earth observation or viewing our planet from space, and South Australia is already the home to several new satellite design and launch companies, with more local start-ups and international companies regularly knocking on our doors.

What the Hub will make plain is that it is not just data scientists or software manufacturers who might score jobs with these companies. Technicians, with skills in precision machining, and electronics, to name a few, will be needed to make the satellites and their component parts. Each of the seven priority areas will be broken down into potential careers in this way.

Richard Price, chief executive officer of Defence SA and the South Australian Space Industry Centre, which established the Defence and Space Landing Pad, says the misconception about who will work in the hi-tech companies coming to SA is one the industry must conquer.

The Landing Pad attracts international companies to SA, by providing a supportive, well-connected base from which to develop and link with existing companies in the defence and space ecosystem.

“It’s all about making it easy to come and set up your business in SA,” Price says, with 10 entities now under its guidance, all with the potential to grow and provide new opportunities.

In a campaign called Find Your Place, Defence SA is raising awareness about the jobs likely to be on offer.

“From software engineers, cyber security, logistics, planners, schedulers, human resources, marketing and sales, there’s every conceivable type of career in these industries,” Price says.

Seven of the world’s top 10 defence industry companies have a presence in SA, creating a strong and growing concentration of economic growth and job creation for the future. Find Your Place has been up and running for four months, implemented across social media, highlighting career opportunities and education and training pathways available in the state.

“It’s a broad awakening program, addressing people at TAFE or university, to open their eyes to the jobs they can apply their education to,” Price says.

“But it also talks to 14-15-year-olds, who really haven’t imagined yet what it is they want to do. There are high technology careers open to you today in the state and it’s exciting stuff, and these are well-paid jobs.”

Back at the ASA, it is hoped that as the ASDC and Mission Control Centre come online next year, more and more people will be able to learn that space is not the sole domain of astronauts and astrophysicists. Both TAFE and university qualifications will be relevant for many jobs, proving you don’t need to be 18, male and doing a mechanical engineering degree, to find a pathway into the industry.

People of all genders and ages can be inspired by the centre’s Careers Information Hub, Space Gallery and special viewing area, where they can occasionally watch the work happening inside the Mission Control Centre monitoring all those new satellites, supervising launches and dreaming of the stars.

THE SEVEN NATIONAL CIVIL SPACE PRIORITY AREAS

Position, navigation and timing is critical for many areas of the Australian economy, including agriculture and mining.

Earth observation has untapped potential to grow Australia’s economy, for example, by improving agricultural monitoring, water management, and monitoring shipping routes.

Communications technologies and services: Australia can play a lead role in emerging technologies such as lasers for data communication, quantum technologies for secure communication and hybrid radio and optical communications.

Space situational awareness and debris monitoring help avoid damaging and even fatal collisions in space. Australia’s geographical position makes it an ideal location for space debris tracking and space traffic management activities.

Leapfrog R&D: Australia can encourage and support research that inspires, identify areas to develop and commercialise R&D that would grow and transform our space sector. Areas of opportunity include new rocket technology, new hi-tech materials, space medicine, synthetic biology, quantum communications, in-orbit servicing, and optical wireless communication technologies.

Robotics and automation on Earth and in space: Australia is a world leader in remote asset management in industries including mining, oil and gas, transport, agriculture and fisheries. Australia can leverage its expertise in robotics technology and systems for remote operation and exploration in space.

Access to space: There are emerging opportunities for Australia to leverage international space missions and commercial launch activities from Australian territory.

TENANTS OF THE LANDING PAD

Adexflow International: a software company specialising in information management that designs, distributes and integrates software applications.

LGM: a French engineering services company specialising in customer support and specialised engineering services, with clients including aviation giants Naval Group, Airbus, BAE Systems, Thales, Safran and Alstom.

SpaceSpecialists Ltd: offers consultancy, recruitment and training and talks for the space sector worldwide.

Cognitive Companions: company transformation project specialists.

Squad Australia: a subsidiary of French cyber defence group Squad, it aims to become a leader of cyber security in Australia

SE4 Space: (arrived in November): SE4 is a new kind of “software for robotics” company, specialising in remote robotics using VR, enabling remote operation at vast distances, including space, underground or underwater.

BV Maritime: a world-leading classification society and offshore verification body, with engineers and technologists dedicated to ship and offshore safety and efficiency.

Naval Group Pacific: represents international Naval Group’s activities for all products and services including surface ships, systems, combat systems and through-life cycle services, outside the Attack Class submarine program.

Saber Astronautics: mission operations software specialists from concept, development and testing through to long-term operation and even deployment of large constellations of space assets.

Gravity Challenge: a global technology innovation program for corporates, entrepreneurs and universities to design and build solutions to real industry, social and environmental problems using space data and capability.

This article originally appeared in Future Adelaide