Aus govt approves plans for rocket launch despite concerns


The Australian government has granted approval for rockets to be launched from the state of South Australia (SA) despite local opposition.

Christian Porter, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, announced regulatory approval for a commercial rocket launch, which will take place later this year at the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex operated by Southern Launch, reports Xinhua news agency.

The decision has paved the way for commercial launches from the site. The Whalers Way launch site will initially support a test launch campaign for up to three suborbital rockets.

Lloyd Damp, the CEO of Southern Launch, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Thursday that the final government approval was a welcome step.

“This is an exciting development on our journey to establish the first site in Australia capable of launching commercial satellites into orbit, enabling South Australia to start capturing part of the A$5.5 billion global space-launch market,” he told ABC News.

Southern Launch announced plans to build the complex at Whalers Way, which sits at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula west of Adelaide, the capital city of SA, in 2018.

However, locals in Whalers Way and the surrounding area remain opposed to the launch site.

Southern Launch representatives recently held community information meetings with locals seeking further details about the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Penelope Taylor, whose property neighbours Whalers Way, told the ABC there were alarming details in the 3,000-page document.

“They’re going to be trucking millions of litres of water and, at this stage, there’s no consideration on how that’s going to affect Port Lincoln’s water source,” she said.

“The days of thinking, ‘Let’s just go out to Whalers Way’, who wants to go see it when you’re seeing fuel tankers, barbed wire fences, security guards coming and going all the time? It changes the whole ambience of the place.”