NASA’s first-ever launch from a commercial location outside of the United States was launched from Australia’s Outback late Sunday, in a “historical” period for the country’s space industry.
In the first of three intended launches from the Arnhem Space Center, the rocket, holding up technology likened to a “mini Hubble” telescope, launched— blew roughly 350 kilometers into the night sky.
“It is a momentous occasion for us as a company in particular, but it’s historic for Australia,” Equatorial Launch Australia CEO Michael Jones notified AFP ahead of the launch.
According to NASA, the liftoff delivers a unique peek of the remote systems and unlocks new prospects for scientists.
“We’re excited to be able to launch important science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see targets that we can’t from the United States,” Nicky Fox, NASA’s Heliophysics Division director in Washington, announced about the mission.
Jones said “the unique location had made preparations hard, with years of work to get regulatory approval and the need to haul rockets on barges to the launch site,” roughly 28 hours ride from Darwin in northern Australia.
“I think for the team, it’s gonna be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.
It’s going to be the first NASA rocket to liftoff from Australia since 1995, and the project was applauded as the start of a “new era” for the country’s space industry by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.