NASA rocket launched 300km into space from Gumatj land, to investigate structure and evolution of the cosmos

by | Jun 27, 2022 | News | 0 comments

The first of three NASA rockets was launched 300km into space from the Arnhem Space Centre just before midnight on Sunday, carrying an X-ray quantum calorimeter, cooled to a freezing one-twentieth of a degree above absolute zero, to observe the Alpha Centauri A and B constellations to create new data on the structure and evolution of the cosmos.

The owner and operator of the space centre on the Dhupuma Plateau, near Nhulunbuy is Equatorial Launch Australia.
Executive chairman and group chief executive officer Michael Jones said it was Australia’s first commercial space launch with NASA, and was also NASA’s first from a fully commercial spaceport.
It is the first of three rocket launches, with the latter two planned for July 4 and 12, to conduct astrophysics studies that can only be done from the Southern Hemisphere, he said.

The launch was supposed to happen at 10.44pm but there were several delays meaning it did not take off until just before midnight.

Mr Jones said the launch saw a BBIX rocket travel over 300km into space, carrying an atmospheric observation and sensing platform to observe the Alpha Centauri A and B constellations.

The X-ray quantum calorimeter it carries – which was cooled to a freezing one-twentieth of a degree above absolute zero – will allow University of Michigan scientists to precisely measure interstallar X-rays to create new data on the structure and evolution of the cosmos.

“In the lead up to the launch, I was consistently asked if I was excited. I can officially now say, I’m excited. I’m excited both about the success of our launch but also for the future of ELA and the Australian space industry,” Mr Jones said.
“We could never have dreamed of having such a supportive, experienced and professional partner as NASA. Today’s launch not only puts ELA at the forefront of global commercial space launch, it also confirms that we and Australia can provide access to space and this is just the beginning for us.”

The centre is on Gumatj land and Gumatj Corporation chairman, Djawa Yunupingu said the space industry could provide jobs for the Yolŋu people.

“We want our young people to see and take up the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of the Arnhem Space Centre over time,” Mr Yunupingu said.

“We want to create a bright future for our Yolŋu families and take up new opportunities – the space industry is one of them. We want our young people to see and take up the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of the Arnhem Space Centre over time.

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