NASA will launch three sounding rockets from a facility in Australia’s Northern Territory from June 26, the first time the space agency has used a commercial launchpad outside of the US in its more than 50-year history.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the historic event in a statement on Tuesday night, saying it will be the first NASA launch in the country since 1995. Around 75 personnel from the space agency would travel to Australia to supervise the launch, he added.
“This project will bring together global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era,” Albanese said in the statement.
Australia and the US have a long history of cooperating on space exploration. Australian tracking stations assisted NASA during Apollo 11’s historic visit to the Moon in 1969.
The launches of the three rockets will take place between June 26 and July 12 from the Arnhem Space Centre, a site which is privately-owned and run by Equatorial Launch Australia.
Albanese said the traditional owners of the launch site had been consulted and agreed to the scientific endeavor. The rockets will be used by NASA to investigate phenomena which is only viewable from the south hemisphere.