NASA launches rocket in Australia tonight in ‘landmark’ first

As a first for Australia, the US space agency NASA will launch a rocket from a remote area of ​​the Northern Territory on Sunday evening.

NASA launches rocket in Australia tonight in 'landmark' first

The rocket will be launched from the Arnhem Space Center near Nhulunbuy, on the land of the Gumatj people, who have been consulted throughout the process.

The rocket will launch from red Earth at about 10:45 pm Sunday but will only be visible for ten seconds before disappearing.

Camera IconNASA launches a rocket from the Arnhem Space Center in the Northern Territory on Sunday evening. Credit: News Corp Australia

A 13-meter-long “sounding rocket” will carry an atmospheric observation platform to investigate the Alpha A and B constellations. The rocket is expected to travel 300 km during the 15 minutes it travels through space.

It will be the first time the internationally renowned space agency has launched a rocket from a commercial port outside the US.

The missile will also be the first to leave Australian soil in 26 years since its launch in 1995 from the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Range Complex.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles called it “a milestone for the Top End”.

“NASA is adding capacity and bringing East Arnhem Land to the global spotlight for investors – this will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals, and more opportunities for businesses to expand,” she said.

Camera IconNASA has installed telemetry equipment to facilitate the launch. Amanda Parkinson Credit: News Corp Australia

The rocket is the first of three NASA-designed missiles to be launched from the remote NT space center, which will not enter orbit but will instead collect valuable scientific information about the physics of the sun, astrophysics, and the type of planetary science that can only be performed in the southern hemisphere.

In a joint announcement between the NT government and the federal government, the rocket launches were hailed as a turning point for the Australian aerospace industry.

“This project will bring together the global and local industry to take the Australian space sector into a new era,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Both governments hope the partnership with NASA will encourage future joint science efforts between Australia and the US.

Camera IconNASA launch pads can be seen in the Arnhem Space Center. Credit: Included

The head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the launch was an important milestone in the growth of space activities.

“This is another signal that Australia is heading for launch — and will further cement our reputation as a nation with which global space players want to do business,” he said.

The launches mark a historic collaboration between some of the world’s foremost scientists and the world’s oldest living continuous culture.

The launch pad is on traditional land, which NASA has promised to clean up after launch by returning all material and debris to the US.

The Arnhem Space Center is owned and operated by Equatorial Launch Australia, aiming to increase its capacity for 50 launches per year by 2024.

Camera IconThe location of the Arnhem Space Center is 31 km outside Nhulunbuy. ELA credit: included

CEO Michael Jones said its geographic location and proximity to the equator would attract international space agencies.

“Our proximity to the equator at latitude 12 degrees south gives us an astrodynamic and physical advantage over many launch sites around the world and is highly desirable for large and complex orbital solutions in space,” he told SKY News.

The launch will be streamed live on from approximately 10 pm on Sunday.

Lori J. Kile
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