30 August 2023

Engineers Matt Wilson and Nathan Drummond have pursued their childhood dreams of exploring the galaxy all the way to South Australia.

Photo by Jarrod Knoblauch

Engineers Matthew Wilson and Nathan Drummond have chased their childhood dreams of exploring the far reaches of the galaxy all the way to South Australia.

Raised in Sydney and country Victoria respectively, they are just two of the many young professionals and graduates who are relocating to South Australia to join its booming space industry.

South Australia has a rich history of space programs, dating back to 1947 when the Woomera Rocket Range was established. 

Today, the state is at the vanguard of Australia’s space ambitions and is home to the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency since its opening in 2020. 

And as Matt and Nathan embarked on their new career in South Australia, they soon discovered the opportunities are out of this world. 



Despite pursuing their tertiary degrees close to home, with Matt attending the University of Sydney and Nathan studying at RMIT, both had limited hopes of building a career in the space industry within Australia. 

“Australia is a well educated country, but in the past, people have had to go overseas to be part of this industry because wasn’t big enough here,” Matt said. 

“When I was at university, we were repeatedly told that we would need to go overseas to build our careers, and that can be tricky, as so much of space work is connected with national defence. 

“So these companies starting up (in South Australia) are allowing people to stay in Australia and keep that intellect in the country.”

Matthew and Nathan were still in university when the Australian Space Agency was established in 2018, which laid the perfect groundwork for their career aspirations. 

They now work as Launch Engineers for Southern Launch and are soaking up the opportunities presented to them. 

“We have experienced colleagues who have spent 30 years in defence who are great at transferring the knowledge, but a large majority of us are under 30,” Nathan said.

“The industry is taking off across the country but South Australia is really leading the way, and we are getting incredible opportunities that we wouldn’t be getting anywhere else because everything is growing so quickly.

“You are trusted with more work and responsibilities, and because of that, you progress faster. 

“We are coming into the industry at the perfect time and place.”



The Australian Space Agency is headquartered at Lot Fourteen, which acts as a focal point for the entire industry. Currently, over 100 space companies and organisations have found their home in South Australia, many of which are based at this city-centre hub.

“Lot Fourteen brought a huge number of companies to my attention,” Matt said.

“One of the most important parts of a space industry is thinking ahead and making sure you are ready for the next thing.

“Lot Fourteen has so many small startups who are working on cool things that will be valuable in five years – it is really exciting.

“I just keep hearing of more and more companies each day and how they are working together to develop new technology.

“That’s why South Australia will stay at the front of the industry.”

Lot Fourteen has transformed into a thriving hub of new ideas, offering opportunities across various leading industries. Nathan has been impressed by the versatility of the technology being used across industries. 

“The tech you are working with can be applied to so many industries like mining, agriculture and tourism – using technology that can only be monitored in space,” Nathan said.

“Australians have so much expertise in these industries and they are open to the new technologies and ideas that we have.”



The relocation to Adelaide has brought about more than just a change in career for both Matt and Nathan, as they have fully embraced the South Australian lifestyle.

“Anything you would do in other cities, you can do in Adelaide, but faster,” Matt said.

“I live up the road from our office in Hindmarsh so I can walk to work every day.

“Fringe was awesome – I’ve never seen anything like it. The whole city was just buzzing and we were able to get out and enjoy it. 

“Being able to drive 20-30 mins and you are going for a big walk, or visiting wineries. I went to McLaren Vale last weekend for a day trip – you can’t do that in other major cities. 

For Nathan, the proximity that South Australia offers has been a great advantage. 

“Being able to go to the beach, then the city and then a hike in the hills all in one day is unheard of in other states. 

“I love that I can live just outside the city centre, but in 30 minutes, I can get away from it all.

“The food and wine scene here is also great. Melbourne has a lot but it is so spread out. In Adelaide, there are so many great restaurants located throughout the CBD.

“When I go out, I always bump into someone I know – I feel like a local.

“I’m fortunate that my partner has also moved over and they also work in aerospace. Adelaide is the perfect place for us to upskill and grow professionally, and enjoy the great lifestyle.” 



Matt will always be grateful for the opportunity he has had at Southern Launch to fulfil so many of his dreams.

“I am a child who never grew up – I still want to be an astronaut,” Matt laughs.

“I’ll never forget my first [test] launch. It was in Port Lincoln so we headed over and I thought, this is all pretty nice. 

“We had spent so much time simulating and planning, it was all coming together but it felt so theoretical.

“Then I get to the launch pad, and I see it and I think, I’ve done it, my dream career, I’ve made it.

“It’s better than I ever could have imagined.”