Equatorial Launch Australia setup rocket launch facility

Equatorial Launch Australia is preparing 60 hectares of land in the Northern Territory to build a rocket base and enter the global space industry. The Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust granted the right to lease 275 hectares of land earlier this month to Gumatji Aborigin Corporation which represents the traditional owners of one of the clans in the region.

Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) began construction at US$3.78 million dollars at Arnhem Space Center in early 2018 and plans to launch its first launch by the end of the year after regulatory and environmental affairs are completed.

Tinuku Equatorial Launch Australia setup rocket launch facility

The facility to launch sounding rockets has a length of 15 meters and is used by pharmaceutical companies, universities, space agencies and other organizations to collect data and conduct experiments. The rocket also carries a small satellite the size of a shoebox.

ELA spokeswoman Shannon Brown said sounding rockets use scientific instruments and cargo to the edge of space that has 15 minutes without gravity before returning to Earth using a parachute.

"Early observations of the greenhouse effect and the destruction of the ozone layer were done using sounding rokeckets," Brown said.

The Gumatji clan on the Gove Peninsula in Northeastern Arnhem Land has many strategic advantages. At 12 degrees south of the equator it allows more cost-effective to reach Earth's orbit. This place was previously used by the European Space Agency in the 1970s as a tracking station.

ELA said customers will include private companies, weather monitoring organizations, research laboratories, universities, perhaps even an international space agency such as NASA. Brown said NASA officials had visited the site and were interested in a potential launch in 2019.