HERALD SUN: Milestone satellite project to boost jobs, investment in NT space industry

JASON WALLS, jason.walls1@news.com.au, NT News

October 25, 2019 1:30am

THE Darwin Innovation Hub will today announce a $500,000 investment in satellite technology it says will “attract new jobs and new higher value businesses” to the NT’s nascent space industry.

The $1.5 million partnership between space propulsion technology start-up Aliena, the DIH, the Singapore Defence Ministry and a US investor is set to be unveiled in the city-state this afternoon.

The investment will see Aliena — based at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University — launch a satellite into a low orbit to “prove its plasma based propulsion technology in a real space environment”.

DIH chief executive Harley Paroulakis said the deal marked an important milestone in the development of the Arnhem Space Port project at Nhulunbuy, helping make the Territory a “hinterland or test bed environment for world class innovation companies looking to showcase their technologies”.

“As the NT space ecosystem develops, it will become increasingly important for players in this hinterland to look toward places like Singapore as a source of technology, payload and even potentially launch vehicles,” he said.

“This project will evidence the NT’s direct involvement in a satellite space propulsion technology that we believe can have direct application at both a demonstration level and payload level as the NT develops its launch capabilities and satellite tracking and monitoring capabilities.”

Mr Paroulakis last week took Aliena chief executive Mark Lim on a tour of the proposed Nhulunbuy space base site and welcomed Dr Lim’s company as a corporate member of the DIH.

“Dr Lim has kindly agreed to provide industry expertise and contribution to companies in the NT space sector providing valuable input in such sectors as advanced manufacturing and propulsion,” he said.

“This contribution will provide massive insights and credibility to our reputation and quality of mentoring we can provide to assist other companies looking to engage in this sector in the NT.”

Mr Paroulakis said the project had resulted in a commitment between DIH and NTU to collaborate to develop a space industry trade network located between Singapore and Darwin.

“We see Nanyang as a valuable source of technologies we would love to test bed in the NT in areas ranging from med-tech, ag-tech, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing in sectors ranging from mining, oil and gas to healthcare and agriculture.”

Chief Minister Michael Gunner will be present at the project launch and said rockets would be taking off from the Nhulunbuy space base “very soon”.

“The territory has a competitive advantage — big space and blue skies — and we will be launching rockets from Arnhem Land very soon,” he said.

“We are working to create more permanent local jobs in the Territory and this investment by the Darwin Innovation Hub comes off the back of Subcable’s plans to invest $20 billion into the world’s largest solar farm in the Territory.”

Read article at Herald Sun here