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21 February, 2022

Momentum gathering for space centre project

The founder of Space Centre Australia believes the project is making good progress.

By Matt Nicholls

James Palmer and PM Scott Morrison in Cairns last month.

SPACE Centre Australia hopes to open an office in Napranum or Weipa in the coming months and have employees on the ground to build a public network as it pushes on with plans to build a spaceport in Cape York.

Decisions on $2 million worth of grants are also expected soon, says founder James Palmer, who hopes to use the funding to push ahead with bigger plans.

“Things are ticking along nicely but there’s still a bit to go through,” Mr Palmer told Cape York Weekly.

“The intention is to open up a project office in Weipa or Napranum for public view, meet and greets and consultation.

“We would be looking to employ a couple of people out of Weipa in March or April.”

Mr Palmer said Space Centre Australia was keen to build on the community consultation it did with the Weipa and Napranum communities last year and win support at the grassroots level.

“We are pressing on with developing the lease with the Napranum council,” he said.

“We’ll never own the land. We are working with the Coordinator-General’s office in the state government and will need an ILUA (Indigenous Land Use Agreement), which is in development work with the Mokwiri PBC.”

Mr Palmer said two $1 million grant applications would help push the project forward and was expecting positive news soon.

“One of them is through the Minister for Innovation’s Moon to Mars initiative, while the other is a Northern Australia development grant,” he said.

“We’ve had some really serious support from Warren Entsch and the state government, which is pleasing as they are both sides of politics.”

The founder of Space Centre Australia also had the chance to brief Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the project in Cairns last month.

“He was really supportive and we are working closely with his office and advisers to push this,” Mr Palmer said.

“We are very cautiously optimistic about the project but there is still more work to do.”

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