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QLD government gives go-ahead for local rocket launch site

Illustration of proposed Gilmour Space launch pad at Abbot Point.

Locals and tourists in the Whitsunday region could soon be watching rockets launching into space with the Queensland government yesterday announcing its support for a small rocket launch site at Abbot Point. 

“Growing our space industry in Queensland will add billions to the economy and create thousands of local jobs,” Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said in a statement. “That’s why we are committed to the development of launch infrastructure.”

“Our easterly facing position, proximity to the equator, and our leading launch and propulsion companies make Queensland the perfect place to invest in space.”

The announcement follows a technical and environmental study commissioned on Abbot Point last year, which concluded that the site is suitable for small-scale launch vehicles.  

“Gilmour Space Technologies has expressed an interest in the site (and) we are keen to work with the team at Gilmour and local stakeholders,” Miles said.

Gilmour Space Technologies is a venture-funded rocket company on the Gold Coast that is developing lower cost rockets to launch small satellites into Low Earth Orbits from 2022.

Launching on Gilmour’s first Eris rocket next year will be several Australian payloads, including a ‘space taxi’ by Sydney-based Spae Machines Company and a fire detection satellite by Fireball International, another Queensland company on the Sunshine Coast.

“A launch site at Abbot Point in North Queensland would give our customers a range of valuable orbits, inclinations, and altitudes that they will require,” Gilmour Space co-founder and Head of Launch Operations, James Gilmour, said. 

The company is also looking at a proposed launch site in South Australia for complementary polar orbits.

For Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, developing a launch site at Abbott Point would deliver a huge economic boost for the region and create hundreds of permanent job opportunities for Bowen and Whitsunday residents.

“For too long Bowen has been the next “boom town” in north Queensland so adding a space launch site to our expanding agriculture, mining and tourism sectors will be a game-changer for our region,” Willcox said. “I am excited for the economic and tourism opportunities ahead and look forward to all levels of government working together to make this space project a reality with the possibility of the first launch being as early as next year.”

“Our next step is to continue to work with key stakeholders to get all the necessary approvals we need to proceed on building and operating an orbital launch facility at Abbot Point,” Gilmour said. 

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21 May 2021