Investing in Space as NASA Prepares for Lift-Off

Government Investing Equatorial

The Territory Labor Government is co-investing $5 million in Equatorial Launch Australia, as their world-class launch site comes to life in East Arnhem Land.

Equatorial Launch Australia is constructing the Arnhem Space Centre near Nhulunbuy, and are currently working with twenty-seven personnel from NASA to prepare the site for the historic launch of three sounding rockets mid next year.

This will be the first time NASA will lift-off from a commercial launch facility outside of the USA.  It is anticipated up to eighty NASA personnel will be in Nhulunbuy for the 2022 launch campaign.

The sounding rockets will carry scientific instruments into space to conduct research and provide scientists with the opportunity to observe objects that cannot be seen from rocket ranges in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Northern Territory Government is co-investing in Equatorial Launch Australia with private sector investors including Blackfyre Holding, Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund, and a group of sophisticated investors coordinated by Greenwich Capital.

The co-investment will support the rapid development of the Arnhem Space Centre, which in turn will accelerate the Territory’s space industry and drive new investment. It will create new jobs and opportunities for Territorians, with local contractors including the Gumatj Corporation, already undertaking a significant proportion of the works for the construction of the Arnhem Space Centre.

The Australian launch market is estimated to be worth up to US $930 million over the next decade, and the Territory is well placed to capture a significant share of this market.

The future of the Australian space industry is bright, with the Australian Space Agency having a goal of tripling the size of Australia’s space sector to $12 billion and creating an additional 20,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

The Territory Labor Government is proud to support the project, and is developing a new space strategy to support ongoing growth of the space industry to infinity and beyond.


Quotes from Chief Minister Michael Gunner:

“We have backed this project from inception, and the Arnhem Space Centre is now rapidly coming to life – ready for NASA and other commercial launch customers.

“NASA will add capacity and rocket East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors – growing our industry and creating more jobs and opportunities for Territorians and local businesses.

“We will continue to work with Equatorial Launch Australia and NASA to see this incredible project make history – the first ever launch by NASA science rockets at a commercial site outside the USA.

“We are Australia’s comeback capital, and this exciting launch is yet another major job boost for our economic rebound from the coronavirus crisis.”


Quotes from CEO of Equatorial Launch Australia Carley Scott:

“The Arnhem Space Centre is a premier location for space launch. The work with NASA signals that the site is ready and able to support world leading commercial rocket launch activity, science, and education collaboration.

“The investment received from the NT Government and private sector investors funds local site works, providing local jobs in the space industry. It signals to the world that the Territory is right behind the spaceport and committed to growing space sector activities into the future.

“ELA has overseen an impressive amount of progress at the site. The Gumatj Corporation and local contractors playing a major role delivering results that everyone can be proud of.

“Working with NASA is providing local knowledge sharing and capacity building opportunities that have never before been seen in Australian commercial space launch. This is a significant contract and cross nation scientific collaboration.”


Quotes from NASA Sounding Rockets Program Office Operations Manager Scott Bissett:

“As of today we officially have our Medium Mobile Launcher (MML) installed on the Equatorial Launch Australia launch pad!

“I want to take this opportunity to thank the Northern Territory Government, the Australian Space Agency, Equatorial Launch Australia, Gumatj and the local support organizations and stakeholders that have supported this activity. I also want to thank the community for welcoming the NASA team and making us feel like a part of the community.

“In mid-2022 NASA will return to Nhulunbuy for the launching of 3 suborbital sounding rockets.

“During this site setup trip, the NASA team has been preparing the rocket launcher, tracking systems and other support systems that will be needed when we return next year.”


Quotes from Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo:

“Even in its early stages you can see the economic opportunities and future jobs that will bloom from this facility.

“This collaboration between ELA and NASA, will further cement Australia’s position as a trusted partner in space and build on the incredible momentum in the local sector.

“It’s another strong signal that Australia is open for launch business, which will rocket Australia’s economy forward and inspire generations of young Australians to dream big and study hard.”

Source: Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Media Release