A new frontier for space in Australia with approval granted for a permanent commercial space launch facility in Koonibba
by Staff Writers
Hindmarsh, Australia (SPX) Aug 03, 2023
Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation will begin work on Australia's first permanent commercial sub-orbital space launch facility after planning consent was granted for the Koonibba Test Range.
Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp says, 'The development of permanent, world-class facilities at the Koonibba Test Range will put Australia on the map as a space-faring nation. What we have to offer at Koonibba is unique, highly sought after and complements our orbital facility at Whalers Way. We have a long list of global customers ready to use the range and we're excited about the incredible opportunities this presents for Koonibba and South Australia.'
The Koonibba Test Range is one of the largest commercial rocket testing facilities in the world. Jointly operated by the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation and Southern Launch, the range is used to launch sub-orbital missions to the edge of space to conduct experiments and validate space technology. The range can also be used to accept re-entry of space technology from orbit.
Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Corey McLennan says, 'These facilities will provide employment, investment and educational opportunities for the Koonibba community. Partnering with Southern Launch to develop these facilities on our land secures our future as a community and provides an industry to support our people.'
Susan Close MP, Deputy Premier of South Australia and Minister for Defence and Space Industries says 'South Australia is at the forefront of our national and international space efforts and approval of a permanent, world-class facility in Koonibba is another giant leap towards growing our share of the global space market.
'Coupled with our strong space heritage, this unique Australian-first facility reaffirms the state's position as a centre-of-gravity for space activity and supports the growth of an enduring sovereign capability.
'South Australia's space sector is thriving and the partnership between Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation is a remarkable example of the success and innovation that is made possible with collaboration.
'The benefits of space-based technologies are infinite, and it is wonderful to see the positive impact space has had on the local Koonibba community continue to educate, inspire and create employment and investment opportunities in the region.'
The development of permanent facilities at the Koonibba Test Range will be an iterative process with the first stage focussed on a launch pad and storage facilities.
Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency says 'Planning consent for the Koonibba Test Range is an important and major milestone for Southern Launch.
'Having a test range like this on our doorstep will make it easier for our local innovators to test and validate their technology, as well as providing a safe returns destination for international space missions. It is a great example of the continuing growth and investment in the Australian space sector.
'The partnership between Southern Launch and Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation is delivering outcomes for the local Indigenous community, as we look to do space in a uniquely Australian way.
The Agency's Office of the Space Regulator continues to work with Southern Launch on their application for launch licencing of the Koonibba Test Range.'
The Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation will also begin planning for its space observatory. Corporation Chief Executive Corey McLennan says, 'This observatory will combine our rich stargazing history as First Nations people with the ground-breaking space exploration happening from our lands. We hope the observatory will be a drawcard for every launch from the facility and must-see destination as people travel across Australia.'
It is expected that once operational the permanent facilities will contribute over $500,000 per annum for the Koonibba community. The project will also generate direct employment for members of the Koonibba Community and opportunities for other local contractors on the Eyre Peninsula.
For Southern Launch the development of permanent facilities helps propel Australia to the forefront of the global space industry. Damp says 'Traditionally Australia has relied on other countries to help us launch our incredible technology to space. The Koonibba Test Range will provide the opportunity for local companies and universities to test and validate their technology to the edge of space without having to go overseas.'
Southern Launch has a number of missions set to launch from the range including the ReFEx mission in 2024 with the German Space Agency (DLR). The company also recently signed an MoU with UK based Space Forge to use the Koonibba Test Range as a re-entry point for their spacecraft. A number of other missions are also contracted to launch from the Koonibba Test Range later in 2023.