Australia launches first-ever NASA mission from fully commercial spaceport


Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) on Sunday saw the successful launch of the first of three NASA rockets from Arnhem Space Center (ASC), marking NASA’s first-ever launch from a fully commercial spaceport and the very first commercial launch in Australia.

Along with two other launches scheduled for July 4 and July 12, the rocket conducted astrophysical studies only possible from the Southern Hemisphere, Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), owner and operator of CSA, reported on Sunday.

ELA Group Executive Chairman and CEO Michael Jones called it a historic night for ELA, celebrating the first of many launches to take place at Arnhem Space Center.

“We are delighted to announce the success of our first commercial space launch with our customer, NASA,” he said.

“We could never have dreamed of having such a supportive, experienced and professional partner as NASA. They have been incredibly generous in helping us through this journey and we will be a much better organization for their support.

Jones went on to say that Sunday’s launch puts ELA at the forefront of global commercial space launch and confirms that Australia can provide access to space.

“Today we have achieved a remarkable feat and left a huge mark on the history of Australia’s journey into space,” he said.

CSA is located 12 degrees south of the equator on the Gulf of Carpentaria, providing unique advantages for space launches,

Sunday’s launch took place at 12:00 p.m., sending a BBIX rocket to travel more than 300 kilometers in space to observe the constellations Alpha Centauri A and B via an on-board atmospheric observation/detection platform.

NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said launching a rocket from Arnhem Land – a vast, wild and culturally rich area in the northeast of the Northern Territory – is an incredible milestone for the Australia in establishing the NT as a major player in space exploration.

“ELA and NASA are thrusting East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors – it will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals and more opportunities for businesses to grow,” he said. she declared.

Arnhem Land (Melanie/Adobe Stock)

Working alongside local Indigenous people

The CSA is located on the lands of the Gumatj people, who were consulted during the project approval process and played an important role in the construction of the CSA infrastructure.

“Working with the Gumatj people to launch rockets into space combines one of the world’s oldest cultures with some of the most advanced technology ever,” Fyles said.

Meanwhile, Gumatj Corporation Chairman Djawa Yunupingu said his community wants to create a bright future for local families by seizing new opportunities, including in the space industry.

“We are active partners of Arnhem Space Center and ELA, helping to build the infrastructure and support its operations. We want our young people to see and embrace the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of Arnhem Space Center over time,” he said.

NASA has a “clean line” policy, which means that everything involved in the launch, including engine cases and payloads, will be removed from the site and downstream areas afterwards and returned to the United States.

Steve Milne


Steve is a Sydney-based Australian journalist covering sport, arts and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast and amateur musician. Contact him at


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