The Liberal National Party is promising to turn Bowen from Australia’s mango capital into its space capital by building a $15 million rocket launch pad near the central Queensland city.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington has pledged the funds for the Abbot Point facility, with Queensland firm Gilmour Space Technologies to be the anchor tenant, if she’s elected as premier at the October 31 state election.
The firm already has contracts with customers who need to launch in an easterly direction and Abbot Point is the safest place to do that in Australia.
“This means we can launch satellites into space from right here in Queensland,” Ms Frecklington said on Friday.
“Make no mistake, if these rockets with their satellites aren’t launched from Queensland, they’s going to be launched out of Cape Canaveral in the US.
“I want to see these rockets launched from right here in Queensland because it’s all about high-tech, high-paid, secure jobs for Queensland.”
Federal LNP member George Christensen said the launch pad would “fire a rocket up local job creation” with 300 construction-phase jobs and 200 ongoing jobs at the site.
He said as a Star Trek fanatic, he had always wanted to say at a press conference: “Space: the final frontier.”
“Now it’s Bowen: the final frontier,” Mr Christiansen grinned.
“The LNP are taking Bowen from the mango capital of Australia to the space capital of Australia.”
Gilmour Space Technologies founder Adam Gilmour believes Australia has the both workforce and the programs to be able to train locals for jobs in his high-tech industry
He’s confident almost all of the jobs at both his company and the launch pad project will be filled by Australians.
“We’ve had people in the company for four or five years now who understand all the components of rocket technologies,” Mr Gilmour said.
Mr Gilmour said the investment would help bring about “the trifecta” of Australia’s first satellite, being launched on an Australian rocket, from an Australian launch pad.
He said satellite technology was extremely important for day-to-day life, enabling things such as ATM and payWave transactions and weather forecasts.
Gilmour Space Technologies’ first launches from the proposed site would be satellites used to monitor bushfires.
“Once you have a constellation of these satellites in space you can basically within about five minutes spot a new bushfire, you can monitor when the bushfires are moving, and the great thing about satellites is that they’re always up there, they’re always watching,” Mr Gilmour said.
He also said public interest in watching rocket launches would help create new tourism opportunities in the region.
“I would estimate that 20,000 people would come to our first launch,” Mr Gilmour said.
“It will be spectacular.”