South Australia’s space launch capability is set for lift-off, with local space company Southern Launch officially receiving the green light to conduct its second commercial space launch test from its facility on the state’s Eyre Peninsula.

Two sub-orbital rockets – one of which is fully Australian made using locally developed space technology – will soon be launched from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, located near Port Lincoln, after the Australian Government recently granted Southern Launch approval.

The granting of the Facility Licence and Launch Permits clears the way for ATSpace’s 10-metre “Kestrel I” rockets – with mission names VS02 and VS03 – to be launched from the facility as part of their ECO-TEST campaign.

The missions will be experimental sub-orbital flights that will incrementally test the rocket design under different operating conditions whilst the collection of on the ground data will contribute to the proposed future operation of the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex.

South Australian Space Industry Centre Chief Executive Richard Price congratulated Southern Launch on this achievement, which demonstrates the state’s leading space capabilities and will help fuel growth in the state’s space sector.

“South Australia is proud of our history in the early period of space launch. Space launch infrastructure and capability is important for the continuing growth of our collaborative and innovative space ecosystem, which is creating unprecedented opportunities for local businesses to deliver across the entire space value chain,” he said.

Southern Launch’s Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Damp said the space launch mission marks a major milestone and the launches will provide a significant amount of data that will be used to ensure that best practices for environmental protection will be followed during future launches.

“We have seen significant progress across Australia’s space industry over recent months. For Southern Launch to be supporting Australia’s most complex commercial space launches from our site is a remarkable achievement by my proud team.

“Southern Launch is committed to advancing a sustainable local space launch industry. This industry will create new high-paying, skilled jobs for regional and rural Australians and in doing so, will advance Australia’s science and technology capabilities.”

ATSpace Chief Executive Officer Dr Yen-Sen Chen said the two sub-orbital launches would be significant in demonstrating the technical performance of the launch systems and paving the way for future space applications.

“These two suborbital launches will provide us with valuable data to validate our future Kestrel V orbital design. They are the gateway to ATSpace’s growth and future investment in Australia and jobs for Australians,” he said.

“Launching into space is a challenging task for any launch vehicle company. It’s only possible to attain the technical maturity through well-planned test launches. VS02 and VS03 are part of the equation for us to reach that status.”

South Australia is home to the first two launch facility licences awarded by the Australian Space Agency – Koonibba Test Range and the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex. The Whalers Way facility is being developed (subject to final approval) by Southern Launch to support orbital launches into the highly sought after polar and sun-synchronous orbits.


Image: Dr. Yensen Chen and Lloyd Damp in front of a Kestrel I rocket