Latest News

Australia’s First Commercial Suborbital Launches Bring Nation Closer to Space Access 

By Rachel Jewett | September 28, 2020

Southern Launch company launched a DART sub-orbital rocket in September. Photo: Sean Jorgensen-Day of DEWC Systems

Australian launch company Southern Launch recently completed two back-to-back suborbital launches, marking Australia’s first commercial launches, a milestone that brings Australia closer to having access to space.

On Sept. 19, Southern Launch launched a DART rocket from the Koonibba Test Range northwest of Ceduna in South Australia at 10:09 a.m. local time. Less than two hours later, a second launch was completed at 11:49 a.m. These were the first launches to take place from the range. 

The DART launch vehicle was built by rocket manufacturer T-Minus Engineering, which is based in the Netherlands. It is about 11 feet long (3.4 meters) and weighs about 75 pounds (34 kg). The rocket carried a prototype radio frequency receiver for the Royal Australian Air Force, developed by Australian company DEWC Systems. According to a release from the Australian Minister for Defence, the rocket launch is part of the Air Force’s Plan Jericho, a sensing program to detect and track challenging targets. The program also includes high altitude balloon launches. 

A recovery effort is currently underway to locate the DEWC-SP1 payloads and DART rocket stages.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said this was a first step toward Australia once again being a space-capable nation. 

“Today Southern Launch demonstrated our ability to launch our first space capable rocket, and within two hours, launch another rocket. This demonstrates our ability to provide a future responsive space access to DEWC Systems and our broader customer base,” Damp commented.