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US and Australia finalise ‘game-changing’ launch deal

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has signed off on a landmark deal in Washington that will allow more US satellites and rockets to blast off from Australian launch sites.

The two countries have been negotiating the “Technology Safeguards Agreement” since October 2021 and confirmation it’s been completed comes after an in-principal understanding was reached in May.

Currently, launching US spacecraft in Australia is difficult, given concerns about protecting sensitive US technology. However, the TSA will remove many of the barriers faced by firms in both countries.

Equatorial Launch Australia, which operates a spaceport in the Northern Territory, said the announcement clears the way for it to finalise new contracts, while South Australia’s Southern Launch described the breakthrough was a “game-changer” for the local industry.


PM Albanese signed the deal in Washington on Thursday with the US’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, but it still requires ratification by the Australian Parliament.

“Once it enters into force, American companies will be able to complete space launches from Australia while keeping their technology secure and adhering to our international nonproliferation commitments,” said Blinken.

“In Australia, American companies will have access to more high-quality launch sites so that they can increase the frequency of their operations.

“They’ll be closer to the equator, where the Earth spins the fastest, so their rockets get an extra boost and use less fuel. And, of course, Americans will gain some brilliant Australian colleagues.


“By opening new doors for the private sector, we’ll grow investment between our countries and help create good-paying jobs in both countries.

“And we’ll also help provide more opportunities for American and Australian firms to continue innovating and innovating together.

“Whether they’re using satellites to make GPS navigation more accurate or developing spacecraft to study the universe, these companies will help shape the future for our people, and for our planet, for decades to come.”

Southern Launch, which oversees both the Koonibba Test Range and Whalers Way Complex in SA, said the TSA will make launching US technology easier.

“This creates a circular process that will benefit the wider local space industry and put the skills and capabilities of Australian space companies to the forefront of the global space market,” said chief executive officer Lloyd Damp.

“Not to mention the incredible benefits that in-space manufacturing can provide to everyone in society – the TSA paves the way for a new era of space potential.”

ELA’s CEO, Michael Jones, said his business had been negotiating with US rocket manufacturers for several years now, and his team have been awaiting the TSA’s completion.

“Today’s events are great news for us and clears the way for us to finalise our contracts with US launchers.

“The agreement with the US will be the most comprehensive and detailed TSA of its kind for any nation and there has been a lot of effort by key Australian space industry parties and government entities behind the scenes to ensure we get it right.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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