South Australia is set to become a hub for in-space manufacturing with Adelaide-based launch and range service provider, Southern Launch, partnering with Varda Space Industries to conduct re-entry operations at the Koonibba Test Range.

The Koonibba Test Range, which Southern Launch operates in partnership with the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, offers over 23,000 square kilometres of uninhabited land to accept the re-entry of in-space manufacturing capsules. It is also one of the largest commercial rocket testing facilities in the world.

Southern Launch will support Varda Space Industries – who are pioneers in developing orbital manufacturing and space re-entry systems – to conduct high cadence re-entry operations at the Test Range to meet a wide range of Varda’s customer requirements.

Varda will be developing life-saving pharmaceuticals in space that cannot be manufactured on Earth, before returning the goods using their specialised return capsule.

Varda Space Industries’ Chief Executive Officer, Will Bruey, spoke of the significance of the partnership between the two nations.

“Our partnership with the Koonibba Test Range is a great example of the ongoing collaboration between the United States and Australia within aerospace and defence,” said Mr Bruey.

“In the future, you will know this partnership has been successful when you look up at the sky above South Australia to see our spacecraft create a shooting star before landing softly on the desert floor.”

Chief Executive Officer of Southern Launch, Lloyd Damp, expressed the company’s excitement for the announcement and echoed the value of the collaboration.

“In-space manufacturing is the next evolution of humanity’s industrial capacity, and elements produced in-orbit have the potential to change the course of history,” said Mr Damp.

“The opportunities for South Australia are immense. It’s likely that by the end of this decade, everyday Australians will use products with parts manufactured in orbit.

“This makes space the resource industry of the future and we have the potential to expand on Australia’s high-tech manufacturing industry and develop the consumer end products right here in Australia.”

The first re-entry of a Varda Space Industries capsule to the Koonibba Test Range is scheduled for mid-2024, pending regulatory approvals.