NT could launch rockets 'within a year'

Australia has the potential to capture a greater slice of the $330 billion space industry, and NT's chief minister says the Top End must be front and centre.

Rockets could be blasting off into space from the Northern Territory within a year, chief minister Michael Gunner says.

During a speech in Darwin on Wednesday, the NT Labor leader is expected to reveal his plans to make the Top End a national security and space exploration hub.

"We could be launching rockets into space from Arnhem Land within a year," he is expected to tell the Northern Australia Defence Summit.

"That most magical part of the world, home to the most ancient people, the most ancient stories, the most ancient languages, will soon be a seat for the extreme edges of engineering capability."

The Australian space sector has an annual revenue of more than $3 billion, which captures just 0.8 per cent of the global $330 billion space industry.

Mr Gunner says Australia has the potential to capture a greater slice of those spoils and the Territory must be front and centre.

"Being close to the equator means rockets need less fuel to break through the atmosphere. Being close to the ocean, in the case of Arnhem Land, means there are safe drop zones," he will say.

"And, more generally, we have few built-up areas and comparatively modest air traffic."

Mr Gunner says Labor is in talks with the private sector and Aboriginal traditional owners about leasing land near Nhulunbuy for a satellite launch site.

Last month he travelled to the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide to meet with Equatorial Launch Australia, a company whose space base proposal is being considered by federal and NT infrastructure funds.

He also signed a memorandum of understanding with the ACT and South Australian governments to pool resources as the commonwealth announced the establishment of a national space agency.

"South Australia has the established Defence manufacturing industries. ACT has some of the world's finest astronautical minds. And the Northern Territory is where the magic will happen," Mr Gunner will say.

Source AAP

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