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Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range ‘almost complete’

The South Australian government has declared that Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range is “almost complete” ahead of its first launch in weeks.

On Thursday, the state’s deputy premier, Susan Close, visited the site and hailed it for marking a “pivotal moment” for the local space industry.

“Through the partnership between Southern Launch and the Koonibba community, groundbreaking space exploration is set to unfold that will benefit the community for years to come,” she said.

The spaceport will be SA’s first permanent launch facility and is designed to test rockets and payloads by blasting them into suborbital space before they return to Earth on the same site.


It’s uniquely a joint venture between the launch firm and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation. The range differs from Southern Launch’s more traditional Whalers Way Complex at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, which specialises in orbital launches over the sea.

“This is an exciting time for the Koonibba Community and the Ceduna region as a whole,” said Geraldine Ware, chair of the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation.

“This will be the first launch from our new permanent facilities and we are all excited to see our planning become a reality.”

The first blast-off will be of German manufacturer HyImpulse’s SR75 rocket, which, subject to final regulatory approval, will go ahead at the end of April or early May.


It will reach an altitude of 50 kilometres before parachuting back to Earth, where it will be recovered for testing.

HyImpulse’s “hybrid technology” offers a greener alternative to traditional propulsion chemicals by combining paraffin wax and liquid oxygen, a non-explosive fuel.

It’s hoped the test will assist it in developing the larger SL1 Orbital Launcher, which could one day blast off from the main Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex.

It follows the announcement last year that the federal government would issue a $4.5 million grant for the range’s upgrade.

Southern Launch previously said it already has several missions set to launch from the site, including the ReFEx mission with the German Space Agency (DLR).

The company also signed an MOU with UK-based Space Forge to use the Koonibba Test Range as a re-entry point for their spacecraft, alongside a separate deal to use it as a re-entry point for a capsule undertaking pioneering medical treatments in space.

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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