South Australian space launch provider Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation have partnered to develop permanent world-class space facilities at the Koonibba Test Range.

The announcement comes after the Federal Government awarded almost $4.5 million in funding to the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation to expand the offerings at the test range on the Eyre Peninsula which will provide direct employment for more than 30 community members.

Jointly operated by Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, the test range is one of the largest commercial testing facilities in the world and is Australia’s first licensed space launch facility.

CEO of Southern Launch, Lloyd Damp, said the funding will enable the company to work with the local community to develop world-class facilities that secure a high-tech future for the community.

“The Koonibba Test Range brings a global industry to South Australia’s doorstep and we’re excited about the opportunities this will bring to the community through employment, investment and inspiration,” said Mr Damp.

“The positive collaboration we have had with the Koonibba community in establishing the Koonibba Test Range is a testament to what can be achieved when local stakeholders, commercial enterprises and government work together.”

Chief Executive of the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, Corey McLennan, said the partnership the community has had with Southern Launch over recent years has had significant benefits for locals via investment and employment opportunities.

“We are looking forward to what this next chapter will bring and excited to inspire our community with the world of opportunities available to them when space is right on our doorstep,” said Mr McLennan.

The funding will also see an observatory built by the Corporation on Koonibba lands.

“This observatory will combine our rich stargazing history as First Nations people with the ground-breaking space exploration happening from our lands,” said Mr McLennan.

“We hope the observatory will be a drawcard for every launch from the facility and must-see destination as people travel across Australia.”

Plans for the developments are currently with local council for approval but the organisations hope work can being in the second half of 2023, with a number of missions having been contracted to launch from the Koonibba Test Range towards the end of 2023 and into 2024.

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Image: Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Corey McLennan with Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp