Nasa to launch rockets from the Northern Territory for scientific research

Nasa rockets will be launched into space from the Northern Territory in June and July under an agreement announced on Thursday.

The prime minister and the NT chief minister will confirm three scientific suborbital sounding rockets will be launched between 26 June and 12 July from the Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned and run by Equatorial Launch Australia.

The two governments say the event will be the first time that Nasa launches rockets from a commercial facility outside the US, and they will be the first Nasa rockets launched from Australia since 1995, when launches were conducted from the Royal Australian air force Woomera range complex.

About 75 Nasa personnel will be in Australia for the launches. The two governments say the missions will investigate heliophysics, astrophysics and planetary science phenomena only observable from the southern hemisphere.

The Arnhem Space Centre is located on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy, on the lands of the Gumatj people. The two governments say the traditional owners have been consulted as part of the approval process.

Anthony Albanese arrived in Darwin after a two-day visit to Indonesia on Wednesday night and will make the space announcement with the NT chief minister, Natasha Fyles, on Thursday before returning to Sydney.

In a statement Fyles said: “This is a landmark occasion for the Top End.”

“We have backed this project from inception, which I have seen first-hand, and now we’re less than a month away from seeing the launch of Nasa’s first sounding rocket from the Arnhem Space Centre,” she said.

“Nasa is adding capacity and rocketing East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors – this will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals and more opportunities for businesses to expand.”

Albanese said: “We can trace Australia’s celebrated connection to the space industry back to the 1950s and as a nation we have to build on that legacy.”

“This project will bring together global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era,” he said.

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