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Landmark US launch deal released to space sector

The full text of the landmark deal that will allow more US rockets to blast off from Australian spaceports has been released.

The Technology Safeguards Agreement (TSA) has also been tabled in Parliament and will be subject to an inquiry examining its potential benefits and challenges.

Individuals and organisations can read the full formal agreement and make a submission by visiting this website.

It comes after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed off the agreement in Washington in October alongside the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken.


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.

Australia currently has a number of launch sites preparing to blast off rockets, including ELA’s Arnhem Space Centre in the Northern Territory, Gilmour’s Bowen Orbital Spaceport in Queensland, and Southern Launch’s Orbital Launch Complex in SA.

Joel Lisk, a research associate in space law at Flinders University, said the TSA is a “complex document” because it protects US technology but contains advantages over similar deals agreed with the UK and New Zealand.

“The TSA imposes significant supervision, disclosure and compliance requirements on the Australian government and any business seeking to provide services to US companies,” he explained.


“This includes the establishment of ‘controlled’ and ‘segregated’ areas within Australia restricted to US citizens and people approved by the US, restrictions on who can examine US technology when it is brought into Australia, and limitations on the countries Australia (and Australian businesses) can deal with or provide space-related services to.

“The UK and NZ also have TSAs with the US to enable space businesses to go to those jurisdictions, but in a welcome development, it appears that not all restrictions in those agreements have been applied to Australia.

“This included restrictions on the ability for New Zealand to develop its own rocket technology that have not been carried over to the Australian TSA as this would have had substantial negative impacts on the existing Australian space sector.

“The TSAs in place in the UK and NZ have both facilitated launches from those jurisdictions.”

The breakthrough agreement comes with both Gilmour and ELA on the brink of launching rockets this year.

Earlier this month, Space Connect reported how ELA agreed a deal with a Singaporean rocket company for a series of suborbital launches later in 2024, with four other Asian rocket firms expressing interesting in the firm’s spaceport.

Gilmour, meanwhile, is gearing up for the first launch of its Eris orbital rocket after securing a further $55 million in funding.

The additional investment is enough to likely guarantee four blast-offs of its three-stage launch vehicle, which has been in development for eight years.

The business already employs more than 100 people and hopes to increase its total headcount to more than 300 by mid-2027.

Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, said agreeing a TSA with the US signalled to the global market that Australia is open for launch.

“Australia is already a place that the world wants to launch from thanks to our geography and ability to access multiple orbits, wide open ranges, focus on responsible operations and trusted alliances to protect sensitive technologies – a TSA will cement that.”

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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