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2 mins read 29 Jan 2020

Southern Launch Secures Land Approval for Second Launch Facility

South Australian based launch company to develop test rocket launch complex north-west of Ceduna

Lloyd Damp and Brenton Ellis standing with pamphlets in hand
Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp and mechanical supervisor Brenton Ellis. Credit: Southern Launch Australia.

South Australian based launch company, Southern Launch Australia, has secured plans to establish a second launch complex in their home state, developing an over-land test-range that extends for 145km.

The new test-range will be utilised by rocket development organisations, research institutions, and international stakeholders to launch rockets into sub-orbital flights, before recovering their assets down-range.

Built upon (and with the approval of) the lands of the traditional owners – the Koonibba Aboriginal community – the range (known as Koonibba Test Range) will be located 40km north-west of Ceduna. The vast location was selected based on its very low population density, stretched out over mostly uninhabited national parklands.

This is the second launch facility in the pipeline for Southern Launch Australia – the first (known as the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex), already granted approval and major project status, will launch commercial rockets into south over the Great Australian Bight from the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

In July this year, Southern Launch Australia will host their first paying customer - South Korean private space company Perigee Aerospace – planning to launch their rocket, the Blue Whale 1.

Despite its name, the Blue Whale 1 will be one of the smallest rockets in the world – coming in at approximately half the height of New Zealand’s Electron rocket vehicle, now successfully launched on 11 missions by Rocket Lab.

In recent years the small-scale rocket vehicle launch market has exponentially grown – in line with the growth of private space companies across the globe. Australia’s Gilmour Space Technologies joins the growing list of launch providers, including Boeing and Virgin Orbit.

The company (Southern Launch Australia) has started discussions to develop timelines of the Koonibba Test Range facility’s implementation, after receiving the required approval for land usage – and is currently seeking additional approval from the Australian Space Agency and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).