The first Australian launch facility licence has been granted to Southern Launch, allowing the Adelaide based space tech to launch suborbital satellites from its Koonibba Test Range in regional South Australia.
Industry Minister Karen Andrews announced the licence on Thursday, saying it marked a major milestone for the Australian space sector.
“It will contribute to fuelling national capability as the civil space sector rapidly grows and transforms and becomes an even more important economic contributor,” Mrs Andrews said.
“Australia’s geographical location and wide-open spaces makes it optimal for various launch activities and suborbital rocket launches provide an important capability to space-qualify Australian hardware and technology.”
Space Launch was founded in 2017 and offers infrastructure and support for orbital and suborbital launches of satellites and space payloads.
A licence from the federal government paves the way for the company to offer commercial launches in the South Australian desert. The company also recently finalised approvals from landowners for an Orbital Launch Complex to send small satellites into polar orbit from a Whalers Way complex. The facility is currently going through development approvals.
Access to space is one of seven National Civil Space Priority Areas in the Australian Civil Space Strategy, the federal government’s 10-year plan to grow the domestic space industry.
“We are committed to providing a supportive environment for industry growth in Australia, including for the innovative space start-up community, while ensuring the safety of space activities,” said Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo.
“Our forthcoming technical roadmap on access to space will further explore launch activities by providing a vision, ambition and aspirational capability targets to grow a globally-respected and thriving industry in Australia.”
Southern Launch chief executive officer Lloyd Damp said the company was thrilled to be granted a licence to launch satellites.
“The Koonibba Test Range will have a significant benefit to the Koonibba community and the broader regional centre of Ceduna, including the opportunity for ongoing local employment, education and the development of a new space tourism industry,” Mr Damp said.
“It also positions Australia one step closer to once again being a space faring nation.”