4 mins read 29 Mar 2021

Koonibba Test Range Approved for Rocket Launches

In a historic event, Koonibba Test Range, developed by Southern Launch with strong involvement and support from the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, has been granted Australia’s first ever Launch Facility Licence. 

Australia has taken a step forward to heading towards the stars. North-west of Ceduna in South Australia, the Koonibba Test Range, developed by Adelaide company Southern Launch, has been granted Australia’s first ever Launch Facility Licence. 

“Southern Launch is so excited by this development, and with the Koonibba Test Range licensed to launch rockets into space and recover the payloads in the uninhabited desert to the north, we are ready to provide a unique service to both domestic and international customers,” said Mr Lloyd Damp, CEO of Southern Launch.

“All the hard work done by Southern Launch and the Koonibba community over the past three years has paid off.”

The licensing process was conducted by the Australian Space Agency, and was signed by the Hon Karen Andrews MP Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. The Koonibba Test Range is Southern Launch’s second launch facility, the first being “The Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex” on the Eyre Peninsula. 

“This is a major milestone for the Australian space sector and will unlock opportunities for our local space businesses to help them grow and create local jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

“It will contribute to fuelling national capability as the civil space sector rapidly grows and transforms and becomes an even more important economic contributor.

“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.”

Drone image of the launch from Koonibba Test Range by Southern Launch last year. Credit: Southern Launch.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said space launch from Australia is one of several areas of competitive advantage where the civil space industry can develop local capability.

“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,” Mr Palermo said.

"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 is an innovative space industry company that is shaping Australia’s space launch landscape. The Koonibba Test Range, from which Southern Launch successfully launched two commercial-class rockets last year, was created with strong support and involvement from the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation. 

The Koonibba Community

The Koonibba Test Range is located near Ceduna in South Australia. Credit: Southern Launch.

Southern Launch has collaborated strongly with the Koonibba community to establish this test range, including providing training and development courses to local Koonibba community members. 

The Koonibba Test Range is set to invigorate the local Koonibba area, transforming it into a space hub and provide space industry jobs. Corey McLennan, CEO of the Koonibba Community stated that it has already had a strong impact on younger members of the community. 

“Our community has already seen the benefits of our relationship with Southern Launch. Our kids cannot stop talking about studying STEM courses at university and one day returning to Koonibba to be part of Australia’s space future.” 

“Our entire Aboriginal community is very proud to be directly involved in the development of the Koonibba Test Range and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Southern Launch,” he said. 

Mr Damp has previously commented on the inspiration that the Koonibba test range creates in the younger members of the Koonibba community with Southern Launch’s rocket launch from the site last year. 

“You should have seen those kids... when those rockets took off,” he said.

“They were like ‘wow’, we did that”. 

Space Australia acknowledges the Koonibba people as the traditional owners of the Koonibba Test Range site.