3 mins read 20 Dec 2021

Juru Traditional Owners give a nod to Queensland rocket launches

The Traditional Owners of the Bowen area in North Queensland have given their approval for Gilmour Space Technologies to build a rocket and satellite launch site on Juru land.

Artist's impression of the Gilmour Space Technology proposed rocket infrastructure on Juru land, north of Bowen. Credit: Gilmour Space Technology (supplied).

Gilmour Space Technologies has signed an agreement with The Juru Traditional Owners in Bowen supporting a future rocket and satellite launch site in the area. 

The agreement supports a proposal for Gilmour Space Technologies to develop the Queensland government-owned Abbot Point State Development Area which could see the site ready for its first launch as early as mid-2022.

“The Juru traditional custodians of the Bowen area are very excited to be working with Gilmour Space Technologies,” said Ms Peta Lynn Ross, chairperson of the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation Board of Directors.

“It’s incredible to think that we will, through this partnership, contribute to future space-based solutions that not only benefit our people, but Australia as a whole."

“Innovation is a must in order to enrich living conditions for all, and this Aussie partnership will be the first step in demonstrating how such advancements can positively impact society,” said Ms Ross.

The agreement with the Juru traditional owers comes after the QLD government announced its support for the development of the launch infrastructure in May 2021.

At the time of the announcement, QLD Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said, “Growing our space industry in Queensland will add billions to the economy and create thousands of local jobs. That’s why we are committed to the development of launch infrastructure.

“Our easterly facing position, proximity to the equator, and our leading launch and propulsion companies make Queensland the perfect place to invest in space.”

As part of the Queensland Space Industry Strategy 2020-2025, the Queensland Government completed a technical and environmental investigation of the proposed launch site. The report concluded that the site was well-suited for small launches given its proximity to the coastline to avoid populated areas, combined with an Eastern launch direction allowing rockets to accelerate with the Earth’s rotation to leave the atmosphere.

Its location close to the equator also makes it ideal for sending payloads into geostationary orbit, a circular-like orbit 35,785-kilometres above the Earth’s Equator which would appear to us humans on Earth, as being stationary in the sky.

Bowen is located in the Whitsunday Region just north of the popular Whitsunday Islands and Airlie Beach.

For Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Andrew Willcox, developing a launch site at Abbott Point would deliver a huge economic boost for the region and create hundreds of permanent job opportunities for Bowen and Whitsunday residents.

“I am excited for the economic and tourism opportunities ahead and look forward to all levels of government working together to make this space project a reality with the possibility of the first launch being as early as next year,” he said.

James Gilmour, Head of Launch Operations at Gilmour Space added: “Cultural heritage has been, and will continue to be, an important element of the Bowen Orbital Spaceport. We’re looking forward to launching Australia to space from Juru land in Queensland, with support from the Juru people."

“Our next step is to continue to work with key stakeholders to get all the necessary approvals we need to proceed on building and operating an orbital launch facility at Abbot Point,” said Mr Gilmour.