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Ukraine’s Space Agency Proposes Building Launch Site in Western Australia

Tsyklon-4 Space Launch Vehicle. Photograph courtesy of Yuzhnoye.

The Ukrainian national space agency, the State Space Agency of Ukraine (SSAU), is proposing to build a space launch centre in northwest Australia according to a report published in The West Australian newspaper.

The SSAU is proposing that the Western Australian State and Australian Federal Government provide a commercial lease of 5000-7000 square kilometers of land near the Royal Australian Air Force base, RAAF Curtin, located 35 kilometers southeast of the Western Australian coastal town of Derby.

The SSAU concept calls for the state and federal governments in Australia to not only provide a long-term commercial lease on the land, but to also provide environmental impact assessments and resolve all issues related to eminent domain. In turn, the SSAU believes that launch pads, other launch range capabilities, and facilities can be funded through private investment. The SSAU also believes that the timing for the Western Australian launch site proposal is right since the Australian federal government has announced its intention to establish a federal Australian Space Agency and make the country a key player in the global space industry and its supply chains.

The SSAU believes that a launch site in Western Australia would be ideally located to conduct launches into equatorial orbits, and is placed to provide launch services to potential customers in the Asia-Pacific region. The location around Derby and RAAF Curtin is approximately 17 degrees south of the Equator, which would make it the closest launch site to the Equator in the Asia-Pacific region if built.

“This proposal is very realistic,” said Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Mykola Kulinich to The West Australian newspaper. “Ukraine could launch tomorrow morning if we had a site. We offer our people and our expertise if Australia has land for use.”

Senator Linda Reynolds, who represents the state of Western Australia, has been working behind the scenes to bring Australian space experts, the federal government, and the SSAU together in order to explore the proposal further.

“The North West of our State is ideally positioned to develop an equatorial launch capability, and it would add to WA’s already extensive space capability,” said Senator Reynolds to The West Australian.

Senator Reynolds has also been lobbying the federal government to have the Australian Space Agency headquartered in Western Australia, presumably in the city of Perth.

Ambassador Kulinich expects an SSAU delegation to visit Australia later in 2018 to meet with Australian politicians, officials, and experts about the proposed launch site. Presumably, the proposed launch site in Western Australia will also involve using the Tsyklon-4 (Cyclone-4) space launch vehicle as the primary carrier.

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