Rocket launcher lift off

CONSTRUCTION of Australia’s first rocket launching facility will begin at Whalers Way next year.

On Tuesday, Adelaide based company Southern Launch announced it will build its orbital launch facility on the Eyre Peninsula, providing local and international companies with the opportunity to launch rockets and satellites over the Great Australian Bight.

Southern Launch supplies rocket infrastructure which enables domestic and international rocket manufacturers to launch their vehicles from Australia.

The Whalers Way facility covers 1190 hectares and is on track for operations to begin there by the end of next year.

The search for the ideal location for the facility covered South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria.

“The location had to be supported by a nearby town or city and have a harbour and airport where satellites could be flown into the location, or parts of rockets could be shipped,” Southern Launch chief executive officer Lloyd Damp said.

“The site also needed to be clear of major air traffic corridors. But, most importantly the facility must be placed at a location that would ensure safety to people and the environment.”

He said Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula, the Department of Trade, Tourism and Investment, the SA Space Industry Centre and the South Australian Premiers’ Office had supported the process “every step of the way”.

The company is working on its environmental assessment of the land, before it moves onto designing the facility and getting government approvals.

The key approval will be from the Australian Space Agency enabling the company to operate the facility and launch rockets into space.

Premier Steven Marshall said the facility would serve as an important asset for the state and the nation, driving space capabilities, creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

“This venture will serve a growing global demand for polar launch facilities, and further positions South Australia as a prominent player in the space industry nationally and internationally,” he said.

Mr Damp said the company was committed to liaising with the general public to ensure they understood what was being built and the benefit to the community and economy.

He has had meetings with local fishing industry but community engagement, including public forums in Port Lincoln and the Lower Eyre Peninsula, are still to come.