Rocket test range confirmed for outback SA

Jan 31, 2020, 12:56 PM

Adelaide-based space company Southern Launch is developing a rocket range near Koonibba, in the far west of South Australia.  

It's the second site to be developed by Southern Launch and will support the company’s planned orbital launch site on the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula, the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, which was granted major project status late last year.  

The Koonibba Test Range will initially extend for 145km out over uninhabited national parks in South Australia, and will be used to launch and recover rockets to undertake space research prior to launching into orbit.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said test range protocols had been devised to maximise safety for people and the environment, and suborbital launches at the range would also support school and university experiments.

“We’ve had overwhelming support from everyone young and old in setting up this unique facility,” Damp said.

“It highlights the vision of local communities and State and Federal Governments to build pride in the Australian space industry and its future. This suborbital facility provides a key piece of infrastructure vital to the development of Australian technology for the space sector.”

South Australian Space Industry Centre Chief Executive Richard Price said both sites will serve as an important space asset for South Australia and the nation by enabling rocket manufacturers and researchers to launch sub-orbital vehicles. 

“This development significantly enhances the space ecosystem in South Australia and aligns with the objectives of the Australian Space Agency to support leapfrog technologies and explore safe ways to access space from Australia,” Price said. 

Development of the range, and procedures for its use have been designed in close consultation with the South Australian Government, Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula, local Aboriginal groups, farmers and the local councils.

Southern Launch has actively engaged with the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation over the past 18 months, according to the corporation's CEO Corey McLennan.  

"Our people continue to have a strong connection with the land, the sea and the sky. Now with Southern Launch developing a rocket test range on our lands, we are excited to develop a partnership role in developing Australia’s space future,” McLennan said.