Space launch and range provider, Southern Launch, and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation will begin working on Australia’s first permanent commercial sub-orbital launch facility at the Koonibba Test Range after planning consent was granted.

One of the largest commercial rocket testing facilities in the world, Koonibba Test Range is used to launch sub-orbital missions to the edge of space in order to conduct experiments and validate space technology, as well as accept re-entry of space technology from orbit.

Jointly run by Southern Launch at the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, Koonibba will soon be home to a permanent launch pad and storage facilities.

Southern Launch CEO, Lloyd Damp, explained the development of the facilities will put Australia on the map within the global space community.

“What we have to offer at Koonibba is unique and highly sought after,” said Mr Damp.

“We have a long list of global customers ready to use the range and we’re excited about the incredible opportunities this presents for Koonibba and South Australia.”

Chief Executive of the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, Corey McLennan, said the facilities and partnering with Southern Launch secures the community’s future and provides an industry to support the local people.

“These facilities will provide employment, investment and educational opportunities for the Koonibba community,” said Mr McLennan.

Deputy Premier of South Australia and Minister for Defence and Space Industries, Susan Close MP, said the approval of a permanent, world-class facility at Koonibba is a giant leap towards growing South Australia’s share of the global space market.

“South Australia’s space sector is thriving and the partnership between Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation is a remarkable example of the success and innovation that is made possible with collaboration,” said Ms Close.

“Coupled with our strong space heritage, this unique Australian-first facility reaffirms the state’s position as a centre-of-gravity for space activity and supports the growth of an enduring sovereign capability.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said this is an important milestone for Southern Launch.

“Having a test range like this on our doorstep will make it easier for our local innovators to test and validate their technology, as well as providing a safe returns destination for international space missions,” Mr Palermo said.

“It is a great example of the continuing growth and investment in the Australian space sector.”

Southern Launch has a number of missions planned for the range already, including the ReFEx mission with the German Space Agency (DLR) in 2023, and the use of Koonibba as a spacecraft re-entry point with UK-based company Space Forge.

“The Agency’s Office of the Space Regulator continues to work with Southern Launch on their application for launch licencing of the Koonibba Test Range,” said Mr Palermo.

The Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation will also begin planning the space observatory announced in April 2023.

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

Learn more about the Koonibba Test Range


Image: Corey McLennan and Lloyd Damp at the Koonibba Test Range