A series of NASA rockets will be launched into space from the Northern Territory later this month, with the Australian Government signing-off on a history-making moment for the local space sector.
Three scientific suborbital sounding rockets will be launched between 26 June and 12 July 2022 from the Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned and run by Equatorial Launch Australia.
This will be the first time NASA launches rockets from a commercial facility outside of the US. They will also be the first NASA rockets launched from Australia since 1995, when launches were conducted from the Royal Australian Air Force Woomera Range Complex.
Around 75 NASA personnel will be in Australia for the launches. The NASA missions will investigate heliophysics, astrophysics and planetary science phenomena only observable from the southern hemisphere.
The Arnhem Space Centre is located on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy, on the lands of the Gumatj people, who are the Traditional Custodians and Landowners. Traditional owners have been consulted as part of the approval process.
NASA has a ‘clean range policy’ which means that everything involved in the launch is removed from the site. At the conclusion of the launch campaign all spent motor cases and payloads will be recovered and returned to the US.
Quotes attributable to Prime Minister Albanese:
“We can trace Australia’s celebrated connection to the space industry back to the 1950s.
“As a nation we have to build on that legacy.
“This project will bring together global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era.”
Quotes attributable to Minister Husic:
“This is an important milestone that will further enhance Australia’s position as a launch destination.
“We know just how valuable this advancement is to the growth of the Australian space sector.
“Australia has a proud history of scientific endeavours and international collaboration with our allies like the United States.
“By backing Australia’s space sector, we’re backing a better future for all Australians and for industry.
“Space strengthens our economy—including in regional areas—and creates jobs across a diverse range of skillsets.”
Quotes attributable to Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles:
“This is a landmark occasion for the Top End.
“We have backed this project from inception, which I have seen firsthand, and now we’re less than a month away from seeing the launch of NASA’s first sounding rocket from the Arnhem Space Centre.
“NASA is adding capacity and rocketing East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors—this will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals and more opportunities for businesses to expand.”
Quotes attributable to Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo:
“This is another signal that Australia is go for launch—and will further cement our reputation as a nation that global space players want to do business with.
“The growth of launch related activities in Australia is helping to open up the full value chain of space activities, which will grow the sector and create new businesses and job opportunities here at home.
“This launch campaign extends and strengthens Australia’s long standing partnership with the United States in the peaceful uses of outer space.”