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Koonibba Test Range to host rocket launches into space

Koonibba Test Range

Australia’s first Launch Facility Licence has been granted to Southern Launch, enabling the firm to host rocket launches from its Koonibba Test Range. 

Southern Launch has become the first Australian firm to secure a Launch Facility Licence for its Koonibba Test Range after receiving support from the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation.  

The licence was signed by Karen Andrews, federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, after Southern Launch completed the licensing process through the Australian Space Agency.

The Koonibba Test Range is located 40 kilometres north-west of Ceduna in South Australia’s far west coast and hosted the launch of two space-capable rockets to the edge of space in September 2020.  


“This is a major milestone for the Australian space sector and will unlock opportunities for our local space businesses to help them grow and create local jobs,” Minister Andrews said.

“It will contribute to fuelling national capability as the civil space sector rapidly grows and transforms and becomes an even more important economic contributor.

“Australia’s geographical location and wide open spaces makes it optimal for various launch activities and suborbital rocket launches provide an important capability to space-qualify Australian hardware and technology.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said space launches from Australia are one of the key areas of competitive advantage. 


“We are committed to providing a supportive environment for industry growth in Australia, including for the innovative space start-up community, while ensuring the safety of space activities,” Palermo said.

"Our forthcoming technical roadmap on access to space will further explore launch activities by providing a vision, ambition and aspirational capability targets to grow a globally-respected and thriving industry in Australia.”

Corey McLennan, CEO of the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, welcomed the approval of the Launch Facility Licence.

“Our community has already seen the benefits of our relationship with Southern Launch. Our kids cannot stop talking about studying STEM courses at university and one day returning to Koonibba to be part of Australia’s space future,” McLennan said.

“Our entire Aboriginal community is very proud to be directly involved in the development of the Koonibba Test Range and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Southern Launch.”

Lloyd Damp, CEO of Southern Launch, added, “Southern Launch is so excited by this development, and with the Koonibba Test Range licensed to launch rockets into space and recover the payloads in the uninhabited desert to the north, we are ready to provide a unique service to both domestic and international customers.

“All the hard work done by Southern Launch and the Koonibba community over the past three years has paid off.”

Southern Launch is expected to provide training and development courses to upskill the local Koonibba community members, in a bid to further integrate the First Nation’s community into Australia’s space industry.

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Cyber, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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