Adelaide company Southern Launch made two successful launches on Saturday 19 September from its Koonibba Test Range in country South Australia. The first was a 3.4m long DART rocket carrying a defence EW payload manufactured by Adelaide company DEWC. This was the first successful commercial rocket launch from South Australia and carried the payload to an altitude of 85km.
A second DART rocket was also launched from the same site using the same launch infrastructure less than two hours later. The DART is manufactured by Dutch firm T-Minus Engineering.
“The rocket is unlike any rocket ever launched in Australia, and is part of what is known as ‘New Space’ technologies – small rockets carrying reduced sized satellites using commercially available technologies,” according to Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price.
“Today Southern Launch demonstrated our ability to launch our first space-capable rocket, and within two hours, launch another rocket,” Southern Launch’s CEO, Lloyd Damp, told the ABC. “This demonstrates our ability to provide a future responsive space access to DEWC Systems and our broader customer base.”
The first launch forms part of the RAAF’s Plan Jericho advanced sensing program. The payload consisted of the DEWC-SP1 EW unit and the success of this launch will be a step towards DEWC’s development of a constellation of up to 20 cube sats making up the Miniaturised Orbital Electronic Warfare Sensor System (MOESS). The SP1 program is being funded under a $3.1 million Defence Innovation Hub contract awarded in April.
Defence has said it will invest some $7 billion in space-related capabilities over the next decade.