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Aussie space launch companies welcome new Australian Space Agency Head

Stephen Kuper

g the words of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the CEOs of three major Australian launch companies, Equatorial Launch, Southern Launch and Gilmour Space Technologies, have jointly congratulated Enrico Palermo on his appointment as the new head of the Australian Space Agency and look forward to rocketing the nation towards being a major player in the international space industry.

Aussie space launch companies welcome new Australian Space Agency Head
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As an alumnus of the University of West Australia and the International Space University, and with his deep entrepreneurial experience in new space technologies and launch at Virgin Galactic, Palermo’s appointment will thrust the Australian Space Agency forward to realise its strategic goal of enabling regular and safe access to space while stimulating new space entrepreneurial activities. 

Australia has a long history of safe space operations, starting with the WRESat and Prospero launches over 50 years ago. Now with the advent of new space launch technologies, Australia’s pioneering space launch companies are creating a new commercial industry that will help the Australian Space Agency surpass its goal of creating an industry that will support over 30,000 jobs and $12 billion in revenues by 2030.

The appointment of Palermo comes at a time when Australia is poised to re-enter the space race. Equatorial Launch Australia has secured a world first contract and is scheduled to launch rockets for NASA from East Arnhem Land in 2021; Gilmour Space Technologies has begun signing customer contracts for launches on their Eris orbital vehicles beginning early 2022, and Southern Launch recently completed the safe launch of two space-capable rockets in September 2020 from its Koonibba Test Range.

All three companies have been working closely with the Australian Space Agency since its inception in 2018 to build Australia’s sovereign space capabilities.

Equatorial Launch Australia, Gilmour Space, and Southern Launch welcomed Palermo to the helm of the Australian Space Agency and thanked Dr Megan Clark for leading the agency during its formative years and for continuing to lend her support as chairman of the advisory board.

Equatorial Launch Australia operates the Arnhem Space Centre in the Northern Territory of Australia. The spaceport provides suborbital and orbital capacity with ranges over land and national waters at 12 degrees from the equator. 

Australia’s largest space manufacturing company, Gilmour Space Technologies, is developing affordable and reliable rockets that will launch small satellites into low-Earth orbits from 2022. Since their first hybrid rocket launch in 2016, Gilmour Space has raised $26 million in venture capital funding and secured multimillion-dollar launch contracts with Australian and international customers.

With more than 50 employees in its Gold Coast, Queensland, rocket facility, the company is partnering with local companies, universities, government and defence organisations to build Australia’s sovereign space and launch capabilities.

Southern Launch is a privately owned Australian space launch services company headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia. Southern Launch evaluates, designs and operates rocket and UAV test ranges around the world, as well as providing launch service provisions to payload customers.

In South Australia, Southern Launch operates the Koonibba Test Range (KTR), a 145-kilometre-long sub-orbital range in the Australian Outback, and the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex (WWOLC) on the southern coastline of South Australia to address an identified emerging gap in the high inclination orbital rocket launch market.

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