The South Australian government has declared the proposed Southern Launch space launch facility a major development, opening the way for development of the site at the bottom of Eyre Peninsula.
Although well south for the most efficient equatorial launches, the location is well suited to launches into polar or polar-like orbits.
Its development could eventually give Australia two space launch sites – the other is the Equatorial Launch Australia facility in the Northern Territory – maybe three if proposals for Queensland proceed.
The Port Lincoln Times said this declaration would allow for proper assessment of the scheme and allow Southern Launch to make a development application.
Southern Launch chief executive officer Lloyd Damp told the paper the declaration recognised the economic significance of this project to South Australia.
“The proposed facility is being designed to compete globally on rocket launch schedule availability, launch window flexibility and launch site accessibility,” he said.
“Southern Launch believes the step to major project status says something about South Australia’s preparedness to engage in futuristic industries and the exciting opportunities they will bring.”
Southern Launch examined a large number of possible locations for its launch site across Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia before settling on the 1,190 hectare site at Whalers Way.
That had the advantages of proximity to a nearby town, Port Lincoln, as well as an airport and harbour for delivery of rockets and components. The site is also clear of major air traffic routes and launching south, rockets pass over the ocean.
The launch infrastructure will handle rockets able to carry small satellite payloads of 50-400 kilograms.
Damp told the Port Lincoln Times there was no fixed launch timetable but the major project declaration was in line with its ambition to get start next year.
With the major development declaration, Southern Launch will enter in-depth community consultation with stakeholders.
Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) is now looking to assemble a Space Taskforce to speed the development.
“The development of space launch, assembly and niche manufacturing in Eyre Peninsula represents an unparalleled opportunity for the region to lead Australia’s space launch capabilities and benefit from the resultant economic benefit and job opportunities,” said RDAWEP regional development deputy director Brad Riddle.
The task force will comprise representatives from Southern Launch and other state and federal organisations as well as Port Lincoln, Lower Eyre Peninsula, Ceduna and Koonibba Aboriginal Community council chief executive officers.
It will provide a forum for government, communities, industry and councils, as well as promote the region as a preferred destination for space capability, and enhance local space industry capability and promote supply chain opportunities.
Receive the latest developments and updates on Australia’s space industry direct to your inbox. Subscribe today to Space Connect here.