NASA scores the first launch of a rocket from a commercial site outside the US
NASA’s first launch from a commercial site outside the US broke out from the Australian Outback late Sunday, in a “historic” time for the country’s space industry.
In three planned launches from Arnhem Space Center, the rocket carrying technology likened to the “Hubble mini” telescope took off – launched into the night sky about 350 km (218 miles).
“It’s an important occasion for us as a company in particular, but it’s historic for Australia,” Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Michael Jones told AFP before kick-off. .
Jones, whose company owns and operates Australia’s northernmost launch pad, describes it as an “coming soon” party for the country’s space industry and said the opportunity to work with NASA was a boon. milestone for domestic commercial space companies.
After a series of wind and rain, the supersonic orbital rocket flew straight into the sky to study the X-rays emitted by the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.
After reaching its summit, the rocket’s payload is to collect data on star systems before parachuting back to earth.
According to NASA, the launch offers a unique view of distant systems and opens up new possibilities for scientists.
Nicky Fox, Director of NASA’s Helicopters Division in Washington, said in announcing the mission: “We’re thrilled to be able to launch significant science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see the goals which we cannot from the United States.
Jones said the single location had been prepared with great difficulty, with years of work to get regulatory approvals and the need to transport the rocket on a barge to the launch site – about a 28-hour drive from Darwin in northern Australia.
“I think for the team, you know, it’s going to be a huge relief when it’s done,” he said.
But with the next launch already underway on July 4th, the break will be short-lived.
“You know, we need to dust off, take a day off and then start back up to get ready for the next launch because it’s just as important.”
It was NASA’s first rocket to launch from Australia since 1995, and the project was hailed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the beginning of a “new era” for the country’s space industry.
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