7 May 2024

Southern Launch rocket lifts off from SA’s new Koonibba Test Range spaceport

| Andrew McLaughlin
Start the conversation
rocket blasts off

The SR75 rocket blasts off from the Koonibba Test Range near Ceduna. Photo: Southern Launch.

Australian space launch company Southern Launch launched a German-made HyImpulse rocket on 3 May from the new Koonibba Test Range (KTR) spaceport site north-west of Ceduna.

The KTR was 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.

HyImpulse chose the site for the launch because of the relatively uninhabited open spaces and because of South Australia’s well-established space industry.

The launch saw the use of a mid-range launch rail that was developed by South Australian steel company Ferretti International and hydraulic engineering firm Hydroil, both of which have used their expertise to expand operations into the space industry.

The 11.5-metre-tall, single-stage SR75 rocket successfully completed its suborbital test launch, reaching an altitude of 50 kilometres before parachuting back to Earth, where it was recovered for post-flight analysis.

South Australian Treasurer and Minister for Defence and Space Industries Stephen Mullighan said the State Government was committed to the continued development of the space ecosystem and its contribution to Australia’s sovereign space capability.

“The successful launch of one of the largest commercial rockets in Australia reaffirms South Australia’s reputation on a global scale as a leader in the sector and opens doors for future national and international launch opportunities,” he said.

READ ALSO Koonibba Test Range spaceport near Ceduna prepares for first launch

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said the launch was a momentous occasion for Australia as a nation.

“It tells the world that we can launch and test large rockets, and positions Australia as a key player in a global space industry,” he said.

“We are incredibly proud of our partnership with the Koonibba community to construct the permanent facilities at the Koonibba Test Range.

“The Koonibba Test Range is world-class, and hosting this mission has demonstrated the outstanding expertise and experience of the Southern Launch team.

“HyImpulse are pioneering the development of new rocket technology, and we are excited that we could assist with their maiden launch.”

READ ALSO Cath Roberts appointed as member of Defence SA Advisory Board

HyImpulse CEO Mario Kobald said the KTR had provided the company with the confidence to continue the development of its planned orbital launch vehicle, which will be designed to carry a 600 kg payload into Low earth Orbit (LEO) from late 2025.

“The Koonibba Test Range was a fantastic option for our first launch,” Mr Kobald said.

“The facilities provided by Southern Launch and the Koonibba community have enabled our team to focus on launching the rocket, which is an incredible milestone for our company.

“Our SR75 rocket uses an innovative hybrid rocket engine and non-explosive fuel which simplifies the transportation and handling of the rocket.

“A key reason behind the development of this propulsion technology is so we can offer a rapid, efficient and responsive rocket that can be launched anywhere around the world.”

Koonibba Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Geraldine Ware said the launch was an exciting event for the Koonibba Community and the Ceduna region.

“This was the first launch from our new permanent facilities, and we were 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, providing an industry to support and inspire our people.

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

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.