Air Force’s First Space Payload Launched From Australia

 In U.S. Air Force, Defense, Australia, Air, Space, Forces & Capabilities, FVEY

USE THIS ONEA DART rocket car­ry­ing a Defence pay­load has launched Saturday from the Koonibba Rocket Range in South Australia, mark­ing the first com­mer­cial rocket launch to the edge of space from Australia. At just 3.4 metres long and weigh­ing 34 kilo­grams, the DART rocket is a frac­tion of the size of rock­ets launched by NASA and SpaceX. The rocket launch forms part of Air Force’s Plan Jericho advanced sens­ing pro­gram to detect and track chal­leng­ing tar­gets. The pro­gram also includes high alti­tude bal­loon launch­es. The launch of the DART rocket from the Koonibba Rocket Range was done in con­sul­ta­tion with the local Aboriginal com­mu­ni­ty and marks the start of com­mer­cial space launch­es from South Australia.

DEWC Systems Technicians, Brian Jones (left) and Tristan Von Hoof (right), monitoring operations systems at the Southern Launch Koonibba Rocket Range near Ceduna, South Australia.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said space was an increas­ing­ly impor­tant domain, which is why the gov­ern­ment is invest­ing A$7 bil­lion over the next decade in space capa­bil­i­ties as part of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan. “The rocket will carry a pro­to­type radio fre­quen­cy receiv­er unit designed for Air Force. The pay­load, car­ried on a DART rocket, pro­vides a step­ping stone for Air Force to explore how advanced rapid­ly deploy­able net­worked sen­sors can be employed to pro­vide infor­ma­tion across Defence net­works,” Reynolds said. “Air Force’s Plan Jericho has spon­sored this pro­to­type, devel­oped by DEWC Systems, and marks an excit­ing future for Australia’s space capa­bil­i­ty.”

Southern Launch Engineers, Lewis McCluskey (left) and Andrew Barton (right), monitor launch operations at the Southern Launch Koonibba Rocket Range near Ceduna, South Australia.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the DART rocket launch is a part­ner­ship between gov­ern­ment and indus­try, demon­strat­ing future oppor­tu­ni­ties for both com­mer­cial and gov­ern­ment appli­ca­tions. “Air Force’s advanced sens­ing capa­bil­i­ty is being enhanced by work­ing with lead­ing Australian indus­try part­ners, Southern Launch, DEWC Systems, and Dutch com­pa­ny, T‑Minus Engineering,” Price said. “The rocket is unlike any rocket ever launched in Australia, and is part of what is known as ‘New Space’ tech­nolo­gies – small rock­ets car­ry­ing reduced sized satel­lites using com­mer­cial­ly avail­able tech­nolo­gies.”


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