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Federal License For South Australian Rocket Launch Site

The Whalers Way site will initially support a test launch campaign for up to three sub-orbital rockets. 

SLEAFORD, Australia — A rocket launch site in South Australia has been granted a license by the federal government, clearing the way for a sub-orbital testing facility to be established.

Science Minister Christian Porter said the license for Southern Launch at Whalers Way, 680 kilometers (422.5 miles) west of the southern coastal city, Adelaide on the Eyre Peninsula, was an important step in establishing Australia’s commercial launch capabilities.

“The global space launch services market is expected to reach AU$36.7 billion ($29.6 billion) by 2027,” said Porter said in a statement.

“Australia has a unique opportunity to be part of this exciting and growing industry, given our geographical advantages, which make us an attractive destination for launch activities. Building our capability in this area will also help to unlock significant opportunities for local industries and drive job growth across the advanced manufacturing sector.”

Map of Whalers Way

The Whalers Way site will initially support a test launch campaign for up to three sub-orbital rockets.

Data will be collected to determine the site’s viability as a possible launch location for future sub-orbital and orbital flights.

Australian Space Agency chief Enrico Palermo said the approval of the launch facility license was evidence of the nation’s maturing launch capability.

“Momentum in Australia’s civil space sector is growing every day, signaled by increasing private investment and associated job creation,” he said.

“This approval provides the emerging launch sector with the confidence of the Australian Space Agency’s intention to grow Australia’s launch capability and infrastructure, in alignment with our civil space strategy.”

“The global space launch services market is expected to reach US$29.6 billion by 2027,” Mr Porter said in a statement on July 14. (Dan Peled/AAP Image)

The launch facility license for Whalers Way follows the granting of Australia’s first launch facility license for Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range in March 2021.

The company said construction of pad one had begun with the first of up to three test launches scheduled in the coming months.

Pad one is on an already cleared site and will allow rockets to launch southwards over the Great Australian Bight.

“This is a momentous occasion for our team to have been granted Australia’s first fixed space launch facility license, enabling Southern Launch to host rocket launches into space from Australian shores,” said Lloyd Damp said, chief executive, Southern Launch.

“These tests signify a very real opportunity for Australia becoming once again a space fairing nation.”

This comes after the recent announcement that the Australian government would defer the introduction of partial cost recovery for launch applications submitted under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 until July 1, 2022.

Since 2018, the Morrison Government has invested more than AU$700 million ($522.3 million) in the civil space sector as part of its plan to grow the industry to AU$12 billion ($8.97 billion) and add another 20,000 jobs by 2030.

(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Saptak Datta. Map by Urvashi Makwana)