One small step for man, one giant leap for NQ
North Queensland could become the home of private space travel with Australia primed to follow in Elon Musk's footsteps.
CQUniversity Dean of Research Professor Steven Moore said Bowen was an "excellent" spot to develop a regional rocket hub with support from State Government, commercial business and the university's Mackay campus.
Prof Moore said the university has been working with peak bodies, the State Government, Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac councils, and a Gold Coast based rocket manufacturer Gilmour Space on Launch Whitsundays, a commercial satellite launch complex in the Abbot Point State Development Area near Bowen.
"One of the biggest gaps Australia has in the space industry in comparison to the US is not having a commercial launch facility. If this proposal goes ahead all the different satellite and rocket companies around Australia and the world will be able to utilise the complex," Prof Moore said.
Prof Moore said the geographical, climate and financial benefits of a launch site within the Whitsundays regional footprint would give the program a chance to capitalise on Queensland's existing industry and power of place would make for a competitive proposition for the commercial space industry.
"The Bowen region of Queensland is an excellent location for a launch base, being only 20 degrees south of the equator rockets can harness the earth's rotation to slingshot eastward to achieve both equatorial and polar orbits with less fuel," Prof Moore said.
"Bowen's dry subtropical climate is ideal, and the region has considerable manufacturing and transport infrastructure, and the state development area around Abbot Point has plenty of space to ensure a safe buffer zone around the launch site.
"Additionally, Queensland is in a fortunate position to receive government support for space industry advancement. In February the State government released the Queensland Space Industry Strategy 2020-2025 and plans to contribute an $8M investment to the scheme.
"The State Government has a plan for our economic recovery post-COVID-19 and space is an important part of the economy as we move forward. The space industry could create up to 6000 new high-value jobs for Queenslanders."
Prof Moore has proposed CQU develop a research centre at Mackay's Ooralea campus to help the next generation of kids who dreamt of a career in the space industry.
"The centre would cover satellite development, communications, remote sensing applications as well as leveraging interest in space for Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) education," he said.
"This opens a lot of doors for future careers in the industry. Current CQUni courses ranging from STEM-focused programs such as engineering, ICT, agriculture, environmental science to business, law and even tourism can incorporate space-related themes to build on the interest and excitement a Queensland-based space program would generate."
Originally published as One small step for man, one giant leap for NQ