NASA in the Northern Territory: Space agency to launch rockets from Australia in June


NASA’s big plans for the Northern Territory outback as the space agency announces it’s weeks away from launching rockets from Australia

  • NASA will launch rockets from the Northern Territory in June and July
  • Studying astrophysics and planetary science visible from southern hemisphere
  • First NASA launch in Australia since 1995 tests in Woomera, South Australia 

NASA will launch rockets from the Northern Territory outback to study astrophysics and planetary science only observable from the southern hemisphere.

The launch will be used to investigate heliophysics – the nature and influence of the sun – and astrophysics and planetary science only observable from the southern hemisphere.

Three suborbital sounding rockets will ascend from the Arnhem Space Centre between June 26 and July 12 in NASA’s first Australian launch since 1995 in Woomera, South Australia.

Around 75 NASA personnel will be in Australia for the launch from the remote space centre, which is owned and operated by commercial space launch company Equatorial Launch Australia.

NASA will launch rockets from the Northern Territory outback to study astrophysics and planetary science only observable from the southern hemisphere

NASA will launch rockets from the Northern Territory outback to study astrophysics and planetary science only observable from the southern hemisphere

NASA’s clean range policy means everything involved in the launch will be removed from the site and any motor cases and payloads will be recovered and returned to the US.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia needed to continue building on the legacy of the country’s space industry.

‘We can trace Australia’s celebrated connection to the space industry back to the 1950s,’ he said.

‘This project will bring together global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era.’

Three suborbital sounding rockets will ascend from the NT between June 26 and July 12 in NASA's first Australian launch since 1995 in Woomera, South Australia (pictured)

Three suborbital sounding rockets will ascend from the NT between June 26 and July 12 in NASA’s first Australian launch since 1995 in Woomera, South Australia (pictured)

Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo said the launch would help expand Australia’s space sector, resulting in more local jobs.

‘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,’ he said.

‘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.’

The launches also extend the country’s cooperation with the US as the countries work to maintain the peaceful use of outer space, Mr Palermo said.

The announcement comes after Mr Palermo this year told an air and space conference in Canberra that Australia’s unique geography, climate and political landscape made it attractive for countries like the US to co-invest in space infrastructure.

Backup launch sites can also be stationed in Australia if allies’ facilities go down to ensure continued access to space, he told the conference.

Communications and navigation systems rely on access to the domain, as do intelligence and surveillance capabilities, banking and the internet.

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