Beginning in late June, Nasa will launch three rockets from the Northern Territory, the first mission by the world’s premier space agency to launch from a commercial facility outside the United States and the first from Australia this century.
The three rockets will contain devices that will be used to perform study on themes such as how a star’s light affects whether a planet can sustain life from a Southern Hemisphere perspective.
Australia’s space industry, which stretches back to the 1950s and includes involvement on the first moon landing in 1969, has been heralded as a “new age” by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Albanese added, “This project will bring together global and local industry to usher Australia’s space sector into a new century.”
Australia’s Science and Industry Minister, Ed Husic, emphasised the project’s extensive collaboration with the United States. “Space helps our economy – even in rural areas – and produces opportunities in a variety of skill levels,” Husic said.
About 75 Nasa employees will be in Australia for the launches, which will begin on June 26 from the Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned and operated by Equatorial Launch Australia and is located at the northeastern tip of Arnhem Land. Nasa is the company’s first customer, and CEO Michael Jones said the launches would allow the company to demonstrate its capabilities.
Nasa has collaborated on flights with companies such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Gumatj people, the area Indigenous traditional owners, were consulted during the launch approval procedure.
The launch, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate, could lead to more collaboration. “This commercial launch range in Australia expands the prospects for future science missions by providing fresh access to the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky,” Zurbuchen stated.