Northern Territory launches to infinity and beyond

NT Government

The Northern Territory’s space industry will launch into the stars tonight (Sunday night) with the first of three NASA rockets launching from Equatorial Launch Australia’s (ELA), Arnhem Space Centre.

The NASA missions will investigate heliophysics, astrophysics and planetary science phenomena only observable from the southern hemisphere. ELA’s Arnhem Space Centre is ideally positioned to support these three NASA missions and other launch companies from around the globe.

The launch, scheduled for 10.44pm, will carry the X-ray Quantum Calorimeter, or XQC, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

XQC will be cooled to a freezing one-twentieth of a degree above absolute zero, to measure interstellar X-rays with unprecedented precision, to better understand the structure and evolution of galaxies and stars.

Around 75 NASA personnel are in Nhulunbuy for the launches.

Tonight will mark the first NASA rockets to be launched from Australia since 1995, and the first time NASA has ever launched from a commercial spaceport, outside the US.

The Arnhem Space Centre is located on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy, on Yolngu lands. Traditional owners have played an important part in the construction of infrastructure for the Arnhem Space Centre and are now supporting its site operations including safely retrieving rockets once they have returned to earth.

NASA has a ‘clean range policy’ which means that everything involved in the launch is removed from the site and down range areas. At the conclusion of the launch campaign all spent motor cases and payloads will be recovered and returned to the US.

Two more rockets will be launching from the Arnhem Space Centre, on July 4 and July 12, studying the effects of ultraviolet light and the modelling of stars.

The launch can be viewed live at the following link: here

Quotes Attributable to Chief Minister Natasha Fyles:

“The launching of a rocket from Arnhem Land is an incredible milestone for Australia in establishing the Northern Territory as a launch site and an important player in space exploration.

“Working with the Gumatj people in launching the rockets into space combines one of the oldest cultures in the world with some of the most advanced technology ever.

“Congratulations ELA on your vision and all your hard work. The Arnhem Space Centre is set to be a pre-eminent multi-user commercial space launch facility, with Equatorial Launch Australia providing world-class launch services supporting testing, launch and recovery of space vehicles and payloads flown to and from all space orbits.”

“ELA and NASA are rocketing East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors-this will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals and more opportunities for businesses to expand.”

Quote from Equatorial Launch Australia Executive Chairman and Group CEO Michael Jones:

“It will be a historic night for ELA as the first of many planned launches from the Arnhem Space Centre.

“Today’s launch not only puts ELA at the forefront of global commercial space, it also confirms Australia’s access to space and is just the beginning for us.”

Quote from Gumatj Corporation Chairman Djawa Yunupingu:

“We want to create a bright future for our Yolŋu families and take up new opportunities – the space industry being one of them. We are active partners in the Arnhem Space Centre and with ELA – helping to construct the infrastructure and supporting its operations. We want our young people to see and take up the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of the Arnhem Space Centre over time.”

Quote from Klaus Helms – Chair of the East Arnhem Regional Economic Growth Committee

“The Gove Peninsula and Northern East Arnhem Land present amazing opportunities for diverse industry growth. It’s great to see land owners, the NT Government and local businesses are supporting new investors as we work to transition to a long term future beyond mining. The Arnhem Space Centre is a great example of how this region is embracing exciting new industry opportunities and supporting innovation and diversification.”

Northern Territory Government

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