Australian Space Forum

5pm ACDT

And that’s splashdown! Andy Thomas Space Foundation chief Nicola Sasanelli has wrapped up the 11th Space Forum by saying the space industry has to lure people into STEM subjects, learn to collaborate better, and inspire people. And more people need to learn what quantum engineering is! 

4pm ACDT

Now we’re hearing from Dr Lena Okajima, CEO and founder of ALE. ALE is creating artificial shooting stars. Yes, shooting stars! On demand! It’s space entertainment, but it’s also to rouse people’s curiosity about space. (ALE does other stuff, like gathering atmospheric data and so on to study climate change).

2:30pm ACDT

Dr Paolo Bianco from Airbus Defence and Space (UK), on a panel about quantum engineering and space, asks the audience to imagine uses of quantum technology that we are not yet aware of. Which really stretches the brains of those of us who are still trying to imagine quantum technology at all… 

11:30am ACDT

New Industry, Science and Technology Minister Christian Porter – who is responsible for space – said there would be future jobs in manufacturing, space medicine, geology, AI and computing. His comments came after PM Morrison touted Porter’s space credentials – a tattoo of a Star Wars X-wing Starfighter.

“Talk about nailing your colours to the mast there,” Morrison said. 

Former Adelaide astronaut Andy Thomas sent greetings from Houston, Texas, and introduced his wife, Shannon Walker – who is a little further away. She’s on a long-duration mission on the ISS. “I’ll be waving the next time we pass over Adelaide,” she said. 

GeoScience chief James Johnson waved his wedding ring at the crowd – a ring sporting a piece of meteorite. He outlined his agency’s plans to improve GPS to the point where instead of having an accuracy of between five and ten metres, it would be 10cm across Australia, and even closer than that in mobile range.

The Australian Space Discovery Centre was officially unveiled by Prime Minister Scott Morrison this morning. 

PM Morrison said the centre will be the number one place to visit for those interested in Australia’s space industry – “the go-to destination for curious minds to learn about the wonders of space and to see themselves as part of Australia’s space story”.

If you’re planning a trip to Adelaide, you can book here to visit the Australian Space Discovery Centre starting in May.

8am ACDT

NASA astronaut Shannon Walker will beam into the 11th Australian Space Forum from the International Space Station today. 

Billed as “the broadest gathering ever of the Australian space industry”, the Adelaide forum will canvas trends in the national space sector, advances in quantum engineering and communications, and space exploration projects including mining and in-space habitat construction. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to join SA Premier Steven Marshall and outgoing Science Minister Karen Andrews to open the event. 

Walker launched on a Space-X Crew-1 mission in November for a long-duration stay on the ISS as a flight engineer. Her husband, former astronaut Andy Thomas, will also appear via video. He is the patron of the Andy Thomas Space Foundation, which is hosting the forum. 

Australia’s chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley says Australia was “really stepping up in a new way” on space.

“Space is something that touches every aspect of our lives, every moment, every day,” she says. “Because of satellites, of technology, and being able to control that as human brains making a difference is something that is really special.”

Marshall said the forum was “a culmination of the hard work and perseverance of our country’s space sector, the centre of which is undoubtably South Australia’s booming space eco-system”. 

He pointed to landmark moments in the past few months, including “the triumphant return of the Hayabusa II to Earth”, the plan to build and launch Australia’s first state government-owned satellite, and the appointment of the new head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo

Andy Thomas Space Foundation chief Nicola Sasanelli said the forum would bring the industry’s brightest minds together with young people learning about space. 

Please login to favourite this article.