The Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra has announced that a dart rocket carrying a prototype radio frequency receiver for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was successfully launched to the edge of space on 19 September from the Koonibba Rocket Range in South Australia, marking the first such commercial rocket launch from Australia.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said in a statement that the payload carried on the 3.4 m-long dart rocket – made by Dutch company T-Minus Engineering – “provides a stepping stone for [the] Air Force to explore how advanced rapidly deployable networked sensors can be employed to provide information across Defence networks”.
Reynolds said the prototype receiver unit was developed by DEWC Systems, a specialist in electronic warfare (EW) technologies based in South Australia, while emphasising that the dart rocket, which was launched by Adelaide-based company Southern Launch, weighs only 34 kg and is “a fraction of the size of rockets launched by NASA and SpaceX”.
The rocket launch forms part of the RAAF’s Plan Jericho advanced sensing programme to detect and track challenging targets. The programme also includes high-altitude balloon launches.
Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the recent launch, which “marks the start of commercial space launches from South Australia”, is the result of the partnership between Australian government and industry, demonstrating future opportunities for both commercial and government applications.
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