NASA En Route to Arnhem Land

NT Government

An international contingent from NASA have been released from quarantine at the Centre for National Resilience today, to prepare for an historic rocket launch from Arnhem Land.

The twenty-seven essential personnel will travel to Nhulunbuy tomorrow to undertake 40 days of work with Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) at the Arnhem Space Centre.

The contingent and ELA are preparing for their mid-2022 sub-orbital sounding rocket launch campaign, which will see three sounding rockets take-off from the Arnhem Space Centre.

As part of the mission, the rockets will carry scientific instruments into space to conduct astrophysics research and provide scientists with the opportunity to study astronomical objects that cannot be observed from the Northern Hemisphere rocket ranges from which NASA launches.

This will be the first time NASA will undertake a launch from a commercial launch facility outside of the USA.

The Arnhem Space Centre is a commercial space launch facility, located on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy.

It is under construction, with local contractors including the Gumatj Corporation carrying out large portion of the work to be completed in time for the launch.

Having the Arnhem Space Centre designed to meet NASA’s requirements will make the facility appealing to other commercial launch customers.

The Territory Labor Government is proud to support the project, and is developing a new space strategy to support the future growth of the space industry to attract investment and create more jobs for Territorians.

The Australian Space Agency has a goal of tripling the size of Australia’s space sector to $12 billion and creating an additional 20,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

Quotes from Minister for Mining and Industry, Nicole Manison:

“We are excited to give NASA a warm welcome to the Territory, now that they are out of quarantine.

“This important visit will ensure the sub-orbital sounding rocket launch campaign is on track for mid-2022.

“The Territory is perfectly positioned to benefit from the space industry, with our proximity to the equator making it easier for rockets to move outside Earth’s gravitational pull, saving fuel.

“This will lead to new opportunities for business and investment, and creating more jobs for Territorians.”

Quotes from NASA Sounding Rockets Program Office Operations Manager Scott Bissett:

“The NASA Sounding Rockets Program is thrilled to be returning to Australia after nearly three decades.

“It has been amazing to see the excitement build around our return to Australia, not only from the NASA science community, but from our Australian partners.

“This site setup trip would not be possible without the support and coordination provided by the Northern Territory Government, local companies and ELA.

“The science being carried out by these three telescope missions is critical to furthering our understanding of the atmosphere around other planets.”

Quotes from Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Carley Scott OAM:

“For investors in ELA, this milestone with NASA highlights the value of the site and growth to come.

“International customers see ELA’s new infrastructure and want to know when they can launch. The spaceport is about to take off.

“I’m proud of the team at ELA who are managing the site development. We appreciate the support of the Northern Territory Government, Gumatj Corporation, Yolngu people and community throughout the Territory, who are all a part of this historic activity.

“Working side by side with the team from NASA is an incredible opportunity for ELA, and the region. It positions the Arnhem Space Centre as a uniquely capable asset in the fast growing global space sector. It shows that we are ready to work with the world’s best.”

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