Bowen space project more than a ‘daydream’
A PLAN to launch rockets from Bowen has been labelled as more than just a “daydream” with the next stage of the project set to begin soon.
The Bowen region was identified as a potential location to develop an orbital rocket launch site because of its proximity to the equator as well as the dry subtropical climate.
The proposed site at the Abbot Point State Development Area also has a large amount of space around it that would ensure a safe buffer zone.
The out-of-this-world plan formed part of a wider State Government scheme to lure businesses to Queensland and a Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation spokesman said a “due diligence study of the Abbot Point site will commence shortly”.
“The study will examine the technical modelling of space rockets that could be launched from the site, environmental and land use planning and targeted consultation with landowners, including with the Traditional Owners of the site,” he said.
“If this study is successful, then the project would move to a second phase to complete a business case.”
Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox said the study proved the project was not just a “daydream” and hoped a detailed business case would be ready by early 2021.
While the department spokesman said it was not possible to give a precise time frame on when construction could start, Cr Willcox hinted that the site could be prepared for testing in the second half of 2022.
Beyond a boost for budding astronauts, Cr Willcox said a rocket launch site would also work wonders for the region.
“What I’m also looking forward to is the ancillary business that will tack onto this,” he said.
“The fuel providers, if there’s some manufacturing, and (let’s) not forget the tourism component.
“It’s very feasible that we could get 20,000 people to come and watch a launch.
“The opportunities for something like this are endless.”
Bowen Collinsville Enterprise chairman Paul McLaughlin agreed, saying the project could bring new industry and training opportunities to Bowen.
He said the challenge would be pushing to keep construction of the rockets in the region that could then provide even more of a boost to the economy.
“My understanding is that the majority of that structural work will be done down south and then they’ll be shipped up on trucks,” he said.
“But I believe they’ll still be here for about three months as crews put them together.”
The rocket launch site is among a raft of projects in the works in Bowen including the Marine Centre of Excellence, the Bowen Rail Company and the Urannah Dam project, which Mr McLaughlin hoped would boost the region’s post-COVID economy.
“It’s all about diversity and not having all your eggs in one basket,” he said.
“If one industry is low, then hopefully the other industries can take up the slack.
“Having another diverse project like rocket launching and that significant demographic in the area is fantastic for our region as well.”
Speaking in July, State Development Minister Kate Jones said the space industry in the state already supported more than 2000 jobs and generated $760 million in annual revenue for Queensland businesses.
“We want to grow these numbers and ensure local businesses get a piece of the action,” she said.
“The proposal for a launch site at Abbot Point has the ability to launch the industry forward and contribute to the goal of up to 6000 space industry jobs by 2036.”