Rocket misfire will not dampen enthusiasm for space exploration

Australia's new era of space exploration started with a whimper rather than a bang on Tuesday as a misfire meant the rocket never got going.

Southern Launch's first rocket test from the Koonibba Test Range in South Australia's far west did not go as planned, however the company says it will try again.

With the initial launch time of 12pm ACST pushed back by more than 90 minutes, when the countdown was finally on the large crowd gathered at the viewing area waited in anticipation to see the start of an exciting time for Australian space exploration.

What they got was a misfire that meant the rocket never left the ground.

Southern Launch is hoping to be back on the site on Wednesday for a second attempt at the first time, with another launch set for Saturday.

Southern Launch chief executive officer Lloyd Damp said the rocket motor was ignited, but the propellant did not ignite.

He said they had practiced for such an occurrence in the days leading up to the launch, but would not be downhearted.

"This is one of the things we have been practicing over the last few days and all of our processes worked perfectly," he said.

"We will unpack the rocket, work out what went wrong and we might be back as early as tomorrow to try again.

"Space is hard, and this is an unfortunate outcome, but we've learned so much from it and we thank all of Australia who has come along with us for this ride."

The rocket launch had been developed by Southern Launch, who worked closely with DEWC Systems.

The rocket payload is a hi-tech electronic warfare prototype that can detect radar signals, with the launch allowing DEWC to conduct frequency sensing tests.

DEWC Systems chief executive officer Ian Spencer said it was disappointing to not get going on Tuesday, but the team will try again.

"I don't think it's a real rocket launch activity unless we have at least one failure - that's done, put it in the bank and move on," he said.

"We'll stick with Lloyd who has been fantastic in supporting us to do our job and our mission will go ahead, and I'm sure we'll get a launch this week."

Members of the Koonibba community were joined by enthusiasts from Ceduna and beyond at the viewing area, while South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was also in attendance for the launch.

Mr Marshall said that despite the hiccup, he was excited for what can come out of the Koonibba tests and called it a "historic day".

"We're pretty excited with the buzz in and around the Koonibba Aboriginal community, the schools students are excited and people have come from a long way away to be part of what is going to be a great sector for Australia," he said.

"We know the federal government have plans to grow the sector to $12 billion by 2030 and create an additional 20,000 jobs and South Australia is in a really good position to benefit from those jobs, and it is fantastic to see so many school students here today as we get ready to go back to space.

"With innovation like this there are often lots of steps which are taken, and there will be another attempt on Saturday - this will be the first commercial space capable rocket launch in Australia ever, all previous launches have been government launches and it is an historic time and a taste of what's to come in Australia."

The excitement was felt in the Koonibba community, despite the initial setback, with Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Kevina Ware calling it the "start of something big".

"This has been two years in the making and the community has been ecstatic and waiting for this day," she said.

"It's a momentous occasion for our community, with people working in the area.

"This will create employment opportunities and it's good to see Indigenous people in the spotlights for great things instead of negative."

Koonibba community member Josie Davey was present to see the launch and added it was an exciting day.

"Everybody has been getting into it and were ready for the day," she said.

"It's a very big time for Koonibba."

This story Misfire ruins historic Koonibba rocket launch | PHOTOS, VIDEO first appeared on West Coast Sentinel.