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Second space launch facility licence granted for South Australia

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The Hon Christian Porter, M.P., Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Media Release, 14 July 2021.

The Morrison Government continues to support the growth of Australia’s civil space sector, with Commonwealth approval granted for a second rocket launch facility licence in South Australia.

Photo: Australian Space Agency

The licence, awarded to Southern Launch, will enable the company to establish a sub-orbital rocket testing facility at Whalers Way, 680km West of Adelaide. If tests are successful, the site could be used for much larger orbital rocket launches in the future. 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter congratulated Southern Launch on the approval, which he said was an important step forward in establishing Australia’s commercial launch capabilities.

“The global space launch services market is expected to reach US$29.6 billion by 2027. Australia has a unique opportunity to be part of this exciting and growing industry, given our geographical advantages which make us an attractive destination for launch activities,” Minister Porter said.

“Building our capability in this area will also help to unlock significant opportunities for local industries and drive job growth across the advanced manufacturing sector.”

Whalers Way. Photo: Port Lincoln Visitor Information Services

The Whalers Way site will initially support a test launch campaign for up to three suborbital rockets. Data will be collected during those launches to measure environmental impacts to assist in determining the site’s viability as a possible launch location for future suborbital and orbital launches. 

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the approval of the Whalers Way launch facility licence is a strong signal of the nation’s maturing launch capability.

“Momentum in Australia’s civil space sector is growing every day, signalled by increasing private investment and associated job creation,” Mr Palermo said.

“This approval provides the emerging launch sector with the confidence of the Australian Space Agency’s intention to grow Australia’s launch capability and infrastructure, in alignment with our civil space strategy.”

The launch facility licence for Whalers Way follows the granting of Australia’s first launch facility licence for Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range in March 2021. 

Today’s news also comes after the recent announcement that the Australian government would defer the introduction of partial cost recovery for launch applications submitted under the Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 until 1 July 2022. The deferral of fees will help encourage more launch activity and continued investment and growth in the broader space sector. 

Since 2018, the Morrison Government has invested more than $700 million in the civil space sector as part of its plan to grow the sector to $12 billion and add another 20,000 jobs by 2030. 

Access to Space is one of seven civil space priority areas set out in the Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. It will be supported by a forthcoming technical roadmap to explore the future of Australia’s launch market opportunity to continue growing a thriving and globally respected space sector. 

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