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Australia’s Lift-Off Plans From Northern Territories

Australia’s first orbital launch in modern history might happen in the Northern Territories by the end of 2023. Credit: Paul Walker on Unsplash

Paris, Milan, 20/01/2023 – Australian Space Company’s ELA (Equatorial Launch Australia) forecasts an orbital launch by the end of the year at Arnhem Space Centre, located in Australia Northern Territories.

Arnhem Space Centre has been previously used by NASA in 2022 to launch three suborbital sounding rockets, however it has never been used for orbital launches. ELA would like to try to break this milestone by the second half of 2023.

Michael Jones, Executive chairman of the Arhnehm Space Centre, said that ELA was “in discussions with many parties from around the world” to try to secure the spaceport’s next launch and that “At this stage an orbital launch in the second half of 2023 is still our goal”. 

ELA is still unclear on who will join them on this endeavour. However, NASA is unlikely to be involved. “NASA has indicated a keenness to return, however, it is based on scientific requirements and as such, we think it is likely to return in 2025-26,” Mr Jones said.

The Northern Territories (NT) government, one of ELA’s major investment partners, expressed its hope in an Arnhem Land launch or launches going ahead this year. Acting Chief Minister Nicole Manison said: “2023 should see more rocket launches from the Arnhem Space Centre to continue the accelerated growth of the NT space industry and create job opportunities and economic growth for the region”.

Australia sees this as an historical opportunity. As the Commonwealth agency’s chief technology officer, Aude Vignelles, said “The moment would mark a significant milestone for the nation’s space industry. Whoever is going to achieve the first [modern] launch into orbit in Australia is going to enter history, without a doubt.”

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