South Australia rocket launch delayed again

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

A planned rocket launch from South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula has been delayed for the second time in a week after a system failed to come online just before lift off on Wednesday.

The launch vehicle is now being assessed and the companies involved are still considering launching at a later date.

Southern Launch and tiSPACE team members prepare for launch last week. Image: supplied

Adelaide space tech Southern Launch issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying the countdown was halted at 2:18 pm “just before lift off” of a Taiwanese rocket from its Whalers Way complex.

“During the final steps prior to lift-off, one of the systems did not come online. As per Southern Launch and TiSPACE’s safety protocols, the rocket was put into a safe state,” the statement said.

Southern Launch had originally planned to send tiSPACE’s 10-metre, two-stage rocket into sub-orbit on Friday in a commercial deal billed as the most important Australian rocket launch in decades. But unsafe winds forced a late postponement of the Friday launch at T-34 minutes.

The companies worked with the Australian Space Agency for a new launch window, eventually settling on Wednesday. But the Wednesday launch was also called off, this time for technical reasons.

“The Southern Launch and TiSPACE teams are assessing the status of the launch vehicle, including the ability to attempt another launch at a later date,” Southern Launch chief executive Lloyd Damp said in a brief statement.

The tiSPACE launch is one of three test flights which Southern Launch has secured approval for from its Whalers Way complex, 680km west of Adelaide.

The outcomes will be critical for Southern Launch’s plan to make the complex permanent. The test flights will collect flight and environment impact data to support the development of a major facility at the same site. The company also needs to overcome opposition from local residents, traditional owners and conservationists about the impact of its facility, which is located in a pristine coastal environment.

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