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Whalers Way launch delayed due to ‘strong upper wind’ conditions

Isabella Richards

Australia’s first commercial rocket launch has been delayed after “strong upper winds” pushed back its planned Friday lift-off at Whalers Way.  

Whalers Way launch delayed due to ‘strong upper wind’ conditions
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It would have been Southern Launch’s second-ever launch into space onboard Taiwan Innovative Space’s (tiSPACE) Hapith I rocket from the newly approved site.

The SA-based business said it will make another attempt before its launch windows closes on Thursday, 23 September.

“Space is hard and that’s why we’re taking an incremental approach to developing an Australian space launch capability,” said its chief executive Lloyd Damp.

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The company monitored the winds using radiosondes and were informed by the Bureau of Meteorology on Friday “it would be unsafe to launch in the wind conditions” of the day.

A 12-hour window between 6am to 6pm was left to secure the best time for lift-off, but the winds were too strong the entire time.

Southern Launch and tiSPACE will determine a new launch date with the Australian Space Agency.

“We had planned and trained for this potential outcome, facing an external factor like weather which would result in our teams needing to postpone the launch,” said Damp. 

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The intended launch was part of testing whether the site will be viable for future suborbital launches.

TiSPACE’s Hapith I is a 10 meter, two-stage rocket, designed to be lightweight while carrying significant payloads into space – along with reduced costs.

The ongoing opposition towards the chosen location from locals and conservation authorities did not stop today.

Protestors clashed the site early in the morning to prohibit it from going ahead, in fears it would impact the local wildlife and sea life.

A Southern Launch spokeswoman said the company used maritime and drone security to monitor the activity, and found no whales within its maritime zone.

The company told locals previously it would ensure no whales or active sea life would be in the maritime zone at the time of launch.  

In September last year, Southern Launch completed its first rocket lift-off from the Koonibba Test Range in South Australia with its TED-01 DART.

This led to the company receiving approval in June this year to construct the infrastructure necessary to support the test launch campaign in Whalers Way.

In late August, Whalers Way was officially approved by the Australian government as a commercial launch site, the first established in the nation.

Damp said Australian space capabilities are “key” in allowing South Australia to grab hold of the $5.5 billion global space launch market.

Southern Launch is set for three more launches this year.

From 5 September to 31 December, the zone will be closed to tourists and locals.

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