Townsville is set to join the space race with a push for a public spaceport and space-related industries at the city’s airport

A group called Spaceport Australia, led by Rockhampton man John Moody, is leading the charge to take the city into the space age.

Mr Moody, a musician and producer, rejected suggestions he was not a serious player. He is investigating three potential spaceport sites in Queensland, at Townsville, Rockhampton and Toowoomba. Townsville appears to be leading the race.

“The main thing about Townsville is you have a 10,000-foot runway,” Mr Moody said.

“That’s very attractive. We need a 10,000-foot runway for safety features.”

Mr Moody has approached the State Government and Townsville Airport, and is also lobbying corporations involved in space development, which he says want to base operations here if authorities are supportive.

“It comes down to who is paying attention and a review of which (proposed site) is better, “ Mr Moody said.

“What I am looking at doing is getting a space industry happening in Australia.”

Mr Moody said space flights for tourists would be the cost-effective entry point for establishing the industry.

He said US space corporation XCOR Aerospace, which begins testing its Lynx spacecraft this year, had “pretty much confirmed” they would come here if he could secure an airport.

Satellite launch developer Swiss Space Systems (S3) was also keen to have a presence here, Mr Moody said.

Townsville Airport manager Kevin Gill, also chairman of development authority Townsville Enterprise, confirmed the airport had been approached and was prepared to listen.

“This is an interesting one,” Mr Gill said. “Townsville Airport is open to consider all and every aviation-related business activity.”

A spokesman for the ­Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning confirmed its officers had met with Mr Moody and were providing advice.

“The Department advised Mr Moody his proposal needed significant work and he needed to establish a proper business case,” the spokesman said. “The Department suggested a number of contacts in the science community for Mr Moody to seek guidance.”

Mr Moody said he had also contacted federal authorities, including the office of the chief defence scientist.

He said governments would fund infrastructure including hangar, terminal and carpark if major space players were prepared to come.

Mr Moody has set up a Spaceport Australia Facebook page with hopes of establishing a first stage by mid-2016, and plans to come to Townsville this month to look at ­facilities.

Tony Raggatt, Townsville Bulletin – Published Tuesday 6 December 2015 – Townsville Bulletin Website