In the first of three scheduled launches from the Arnhem Space Centre, the rocket, holding up a technology likened to a “mini Hubble” telescope, lifted off – blasted about 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 explained to AFP before the lift-off.
Jones, whose company possesses and operates the launch site in the far north of Australia, illustrated it as a “coming out” party for the country’s space industry and said, “the chance to work with NASA was a milestone for commercial space firms in the country.”
After a series of rain and wind delays, the suborbital-sounding rocket soared into the sky to research x-rays originating from the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.
According to NASA, the liftoff offers a unique peek of the remote systems and unlocked fresh 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, explained on announcing the mission.
“I think for the team, it’s gonna be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.
But with the subsequent launch already looming on July 4th, the halt would be short-lived.
“We need to, you know, dust ourselves off, take a day off and then get back into it in readiness for the next launch because it’s just as important.”