Sub-orbital rocket to launch from South Australia this year


First look at Southern Launch’s Whalers Way Launch Pad 1. Image credit: Southern Launch.

Regulatory approval has been granted by the federal government for a commercial rocket launch to take place later this year, from Southern Launch’s Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex in South Australia. 

tiSPACE, a Taiwanese company, will conduct a test flight at the complex of its Hapith I – a 10m, two-stage, sub-orbital rocket. This will help position Australia as a future launch destination. 

“This is an important outcome in establishing Australia’s commercial launch capability and demonstrating what our country can offer to the international space sector,” minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said. 

“Space is a significant global growth market that will support Australia’s economic future through big investment, new technologies and job growth across multiple industries.” 

The date for the launch will be determined by tiSPACE and Southern Launch in the coming months. tiSPACE is also currently considering bringing manufacturing of complete rocket systems to Australia. 

The launch will mark another significant milestone in the rapid development of Australia’s space capability, minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said. 

“Australia has an opportunity to become a key player in the rapidly expanding global space launch market, which will bring investment, jobs and innovation to our nation,” Tehan said. 

“The Morrison government is working with other governments, businesses and the sector to ensure Australia is best placed to take advantage of the growing opportunities in space.” 

Australia is serious about growing its emerging launch industry and contribution to the global space sector, according to Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo. 

“This is a significant milestone that will help pave the way for future commercial launches from Australia,” Palermo said. 

“We are passionate about growing a thriving space industry – one that can open doors for our national space sector to launch technologies from home and attract greater investment from international launch customers.”  

The Whalers Way launch site will initially support a test launch campaign for up to three suborbital rockets. Data will be collected during those launches to measure environmental impacts and assist in determining the site’s viability as a possible launch location for future suborbital and orbital launches.  

Since 2018, the federal government has invested more than $700 million in the civil space sector as part of its plan to grow the sector to $12 billion and add another 20,000 jobs by 2030.  

Access to Space is one of seven National Civil Space Priority Areas set out in the Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. It will be supported by a forthcoming technical roadmap to explore the future of Australia’s launch market opportunity, to continue growing a thriving and globally respected space sector. 

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