Chief Defence Scientist: Adelaide in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for space industry

At a Women in Space event, Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro told the crowd via video message that South Australia was in the “Goldilocks zone” for effective space research.

“Australia, and South Australia in particular, have a really exciting role to play in developing our space industry,” she told the event. 

“My view is that South Australia is just right. It’s in the Goldilocks zone for space. And what I mean by that is that we’re big enough to do just about everything, but small enough to know who to talk to, to make it happen.”

Monro is the head of the Defence Science and Technology Group, but she is also a physicist, and her research is focused on lasers and the new classes of optical fibres.

The event, which was part of a three-part series on Inspiring South Australian Women, was attended by academics, industry professionals and secondary school students.

Australia isn’t usually seen as a hub for space science, but with the Australian Space Agency based in South Australia, as well as more and more companies popping up, the crowd was told that this is starting to change.

Panellists on stage at the Women in Space event. Credit: Jacinta Bowler

“One of the reasons I wanted to move to Australia was because of the opportunities to work in the space industry,” says University of Adelaide agricultural researcher Associate Professor Jenny Mortimer.

“Adelaide has the space agency here, and it’s very close to the university campus, which means you really get that kind of mixing of ideas that are that I’m really excited about.”

The event was run by The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and the Australia Day Council of South Australia and brought together a panel of six women in the space industry who discussed what to look forward to in Australia’s space capabilities.

The featured a keynote speech was from Flavia Tata Nardini – the co-founder and CEO of Adelaide-based nanosatellite company, Fleet Space Technologies. She spoke about her children’s ambitions and how to make being a woman in the space technology field ‘normal’.

The panel included Mortimer; Australian Space Agency Director of Space Technology Katherine Bennell Pegg; BoM space weather expert Zandria Farrell; CSIRO’s Space Research Program Director Dr Kimberley Clayfield; and University of South Australia cyber security expert Professor Jill Slay.

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