4 April 2024

Koonibba Test Range spaceport near Ceduna prepares for first launch

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Koonibba Test Range SA

The remote Koonibba test range site northwest of Ceduna. Photo: Southern Launch.

A project to build a rocket launch facility in remote outback South Australia is nearing completion and is preparing for its first launch.

The Koonibba Test Range (KTR) spaceport facility northwest of Ceduna has been built as a partnership between Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, and will be the largest commercial testing range in the Southern Hemisphere when complete.

Subject to regulatory approval by the Australian Space Agency (ASA), the first launch from KTR is scheduled for the end of April or early May, and will also be the first launch of a German-made HyImpulse’s SR75 rocket.

The new SR75 is a sounding rocket which uses HyImpulse’s revolutionary non-explosive paraffin wax and liquid oxygen hybrid propulsion system. The rocket is planned to launch up to an altitude of 50 kilometres before parachuting back to earth.

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Southern Launch and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation have been working since 2017 to develop the KTR which is planned to help to provide local employment, investment and educational opportunities for members of the local Koonibba community and the wider Eyre Peninsula.

The range extends up to 350 kilometres and covers over 41,000 square kilometres of uninhabited areas, providing launch customers with the opportunity to launch and recover rockets and satellite technologies.

The partnership will also see the development of an Astronomical Centre and Observatory, with the range expected to attract both tourists and global space companies, contributing more than $500,000 annually to the Koonibba community.

Deputy Premier Susan Close said having permanent facilities at the KTR helped bring together South Australian space companies and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation to develop a spaceport the state can be proud of.

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“This marks a pivotal moment for South Australia’s space industry, facilitating the launch of remarkable missions, welcoming space returns and serving as a crucial testing ground for local and global space pioneers to advance their technologies,” she said.

“Through the partnership between Southern Launch and the Koonibba community, ground-breaking space exploration is set to unfold that will benefit the community for years to come.”

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said he was incredibly proud of the company’s partnership with the Koonibba community.

“The permanent, world-class facilities at the KTR will put Australia on the map as a space-faring nation,” he said.

“We have a long list of global customers ready to use the range and we’re excited about the incredible opportunities this presents for Koonibba and South Australia.

“HyImpulse are pioneering the development of new rocket technology and we are excited to assist with their maiden launch – the first from our permanent facilities.”

Koonibba Test Range

Southern Launch Infrastructure Lead Jenna Holder, Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation Secretary Kevina Ware, Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation Chair Geraldine Ware, Deputy Premier Susan Close, and Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp at the Koonibba Test Range on 28 March. Photo: Southern Launch.

Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation Chair Geraldine Ware said it was an exciting time for the Koonibba Community and the Ceduna region as a whole.

“This will be the first launch from our new permanent facilities and we are all excited to see our planning become a reality,” she said.

“Partnering with Southern Launch to develop these permanent facilities on our land secures our future as a community and provides an industry to support and inspire our people.

“The Koonibba Test Range brings wide-ranging benefits to our people from investment, employment through to inspiring our children and young people to pursue careers that could be out of this world.”

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