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Whalers Way rocket launch retry set for Wednesday

Isabella Richards

Southern Launch has announced it will reattempt its Whalers Way rocket launch on Wednesday, after strong winds delayed the initial plans last week.

Whalers Way rocket launch retry set for Wednesday
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The SA-based company will blast Taiwan Innovative Space’s (tiSPACE) Hapith I rocket from the Orbital Launch Complex on the Eyre Peninsula, in what will significantly be Australia’s first commercial rocket launch.

There will be no live broadcast of the event, but the rocket will lift-off into space at a selected time between 6am and 6pm local time.

Last Friday, the company was set for the much-anticipated historic launch from the newly approved site, but “strong upper winds” led to its postponement.

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“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 at the time.

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.

Now, the Australian Space Agency has approved the next date for 15 September, providing an updated alert of maritime exclusion zones and airspace restrictions to locals.

Southern Launch is set for three more launches this year, which will test whether the site is viable for future suborbital launches.

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TiSPACE’s Hapith I is a 10-metre, 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 on Friday.

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 approved by the Australian government as a commercial launch site for the test campaign - 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.

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

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