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Australia’s new launch complex plans 1st liftoff

Australia's new launch complex: Men standing with rocket in background.
Dr. Matthew Tetlow, CEO Inovor Technologies; Dr. Yen-Sen Chen, CEO and Founder ATSpace; Ian Spencer, CEO Asension; and Lloyd Damp, CEO Southern Launch; pose before a Kestrel I rocket at the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex in South Australia. The group hopes to launch the test flight in November 2022. It will mark the 1st liftoff from the complex. Image via Southern Launch.

Australia’s new launch complex plans for 1st launch

Last June saw the first space launch from Australia in 25 years. NASA sent up an X-ray mission to observe nearby stars Alpha Centauri A and B from the Arnhem Space Center in Australia’s Northern Territory. And now a group of Aussie aerospace companies is ready to lift off again from Australia. They’re hoping to send up a suborbital rocket this month (November 2022) from Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex at the edge of the Great Australian Bight, a massive open bay near the city of Adelaide, off the coast of the state of South Australia. This will be the first-ever launch from Whalers Way.

Ian Spencer, CEO of Asension, one of the aerospace companies involved, said the launch marks a new era for Australian spaceflight:

Having access to space from Australian soil is a game changer for our R&D efforts. This launch will accelerate the development of our technology in a way that has not previously been possible. This means that we can provide greater sovereign capability sooner.

Asension is an Australian electronic warfare technology company.

Launching the Kestrel I

The Australian aerospace companies said they will be flying a sounding rocket to test a new tracking method:

The ‘Kestrel I’ launch vehicle is a 10-meter (33-foot), two-stage, sub-orbital rocket. The rocket will launch from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex and reach an altitude of over 200 kilometers (124 miles) above Earth. The trajectory of the launch will be over the Southern Ocean with the total time of flight approximately 10 minutes.

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To keep tabs on the Kestrel as it flies, the group won’t gather telemetry the old-fashioned way. Instead, they intend to have the rocket call them. They said:

The Southern Launch payload will use existing satellite phone technology to track the rocket as it travels through space, removing the need for traditional ground-based infrastructure. This mission will provide vital data to prove the capability of this ground-breaking technology and serves as a proof of concept for future product development.

The companies involved will also test their communication protocols while gathering data for future Kestrel flights to orbit, they said. ATSpace, which manufactures the Kestrel line, is developing a three-stage orbital vehicle.

Bottom line: Some Australian companies plan a suborbital rocket launch in November 2022 from Australia’s new launch complex, Whalers Way. It’ll be a 1st launch fron this site.

Read more: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin flight soars to the edge of space

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