Canberra’s James Palmer counts down to space tourism take off within 18 months


Space Center Australia will include four launch pads and a mission control center. Image: SpaceOz.

Space tourism could take off first in Australia 18 months from now, according to Canberra visionary James Palmer.

Plans are well advanced for the development of the $ 350 million project The installation of Space Center Australia in Weipa, Queensland, led by ACT-based Palm Branch group of Mr. Palmer and his subsidiary, SpaceOz Pty Ltd.

The state-of-the-art facility will provide lower cost access to space and give Australia a competitive edge in the race for commercial launches and Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos’ private missions.

Mr Palmer said negotiations were well underway with the Federal Government, the Queensland Government, a host of investors and the traditional owners of the 22 square kilometer site in remote northwest Queensland.


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Designs are well advanced and construction is expected to begin early next year, with operations set to begin in the first phase of Space Center Australia in the second half of 2022.

Global investment in space companies hit a record $ 8.9 billion in 2020, and Mr Palmer said Space Center Australia will bring financial benefits to the Australian economy.

He said the country’s first large-scale and multi-purpose spaceport was designed to be a “collaborative hub for the advancement of the Australian and international space industry sectors.”

“The bespoke facility will be similar to the US space center,” Palmer said.

“However, we are taking a hybrid approach, offering a one-stop shop that will be multi-tenant by all kinds of different players. You could compare it to an international airport.

Artist's impression of Space Center Australia

Australia’s first large-scale and multi-purpose spaceport will be a collaborative hub for the advancement of sectors of the Australian and international space industry. Image: SpaceOz.

The large site will accommodate small to large vertical launch systems, and will include alaunch vehicle development and handling center, four launch staging platforms, and I ammission control center.

The space center will also include accommodation and administration facilities, a data center and broadband satellite communications facilities, as well as a security operations center.

Mr Palmer said the space tourism industry was “ready to take off” in Australia.

“There is huge potential for space tourism here,” he said.

“It’s a really exciting time for the industry, and the new center will bring the country to a position where we can be more adventurous and ambitious with what we want to do.”

Mr. Palmer and his team have worked with Trade and Investment Queensland and regional tourism organizations in Northern Australia on a range of space tourism opportunities.

“We have already talked about phrases like ‘Dive on the reef on Monday and go to orbit on Wednesday’,” he said.

Artist's impression of Space Center Australia

The traditional owners of the 22 square kilometer site in remote northwest Queensland have given the green light to the Space Center Australia project. Image: SpaceOz.

In addition to tourism, Palmer said the facility will be a catalyst for other development and research projects in space, providing massive training opportunities.

“We will work with schools and universities to provide educational pathways such as internships and graduate study opportunities,” he said. “We are going to be proactive in training because we fear that in 10 years there will be a massive skills shortage in the space industry.”

When completed, it is estimated that Space Center Australia providing 300 full-time positions as well as hundreds of contract opportunities.

Based in Canberra, the Palm Branch Group team includes defense veterans, civilians and former emergency service personnel working on a range of defense and government programs, engineering and space programs. and initiatives for the management of the terrestrial and marine environment.


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