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ELA hires Apple exec to woo defence clients

Spaceport firm ELA has appointed a longstanding Apple executive to negotiate bespoke contracts with rocket launch clients.

The business said new head of business development Travis Marshall, who has a long history in the RAAF, would also help court potential defence clients.

It significantly comes after ELA announced that a Korean launch company would become the first long-term tenant at its Arnhem Space Centre spaceport in the Northern Territory.

The company believes it can eventually accommodate up to seven rocket companies at its site, fuelled by strong demand for satellite launches combined with a lack of supply from traditional rocket companies overseas.


In a statement issued on Tuesday, Marshall said he believed ELA was on track to deliver more launch contracts as soon as by the end of the year.

“With my background in technology and Defence, the space industry has long been an area that I wanted to transition into, and ELA stood out as an exciting opportunity,” he said.

Travis has a unique background as a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Canadian Forces Air Navigation School, and the Defence Intelligence Training Centre.

He conducted several operational deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, with his final deployment serving as the chief of key leadership engagement based in Kandahar.


More recently, he spent nine years at Apple across its Queensland and Singapore offices.

Marshall’s hire follows Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signing off on a landmark deal in Washington last month to allow more US satellites and rockets to blast off from Australian launch sites.

The two countries had been negotiating the “Technology Safeguards Agreement” since October 2021, and confirmation of its completion came after an in-principal understanding was reached in May.

Currently, launching US spacecraft in Australia is difficult, given concerns about protecting sensitive US technology. However, the TSA will remove many of the barriers faced by firms in both countries.

ELA said the announcement cleared the way for it to finalise new contracts, while South Australia’s Southern Launch described the breakthrough was a “game changer” for the local industry.

PM Albanese signed the deal with the US’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, but it still requires ratification by the Australian Parliament.

“Once it enters into force, American companies will be able to complete space launches from Australia while keeping their technology secure and adhering to our international nonproliferation commitments,” said Blinken.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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