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First Koonibba Test Range launch hailed a success

written by Adam Thorn | May 3, 2024

The first blast off from Southern Launch’s Koonibba Test Range since its upgrade was hailed a success after the rocket lifted off at 2:40pm on Friday and was recovered.

The launch of German manufacturer HyImpulse’s SR75 rocket is a hugely significant moment for Australia’s space sector and paves the way for future blast-offs from the site in Ceduna, SA.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said his team were proud to have been part of the “historic” mission.

“The Koonibba Test Range is world-class and hosting this mission has demonstrated the outstanding expertise and experience of the Southern Launch and HyImpulse teams,” he said.


The facility is designed to test rockets and payloads by blasting them into suborbital space before they return to Earth on the same site. It’s uniquely a joint venture between the launch firm and the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation.

The range differs from Southern Launch’s more traditional Whalers Way Complex at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula, which specialises in orbital launches over the sea.

Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Geraldine Ware added, “This launch was an incredible achievement for our community and shining light for First Nations people.

“We had more than 30 people from the community working throughout the campaign and to come together and see it launch was amazing. We look forward to the next launch from our launch pad.”

The rocket that blasted off, meanwhile, was unique because it was propelled by “greener” paraffin wax and liquid oxygen, a non-explosive fuel.

It’s hoped the mission – named “Light This Candle” in homage to Alan Shepard’s famous quote – will assist HyImpulse in developing its larger SL1 Orbital Launcher, which could one day blast off from the main Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex.

It follows the announcement last year that the federal government would issue a $4.5 million grant for the range’s upgrade.

Southern Launch previously said it already has several missions set to launch from the site, including the ReFEx mission with the German Space Agency (DLR).

The company also signed a MOU with UK-based Space Forge to use the Koonibba Test Range as a re-entry point for their spacecraft, alongside a separate deal to use it as a re-entry point for a capsule undertaking pioneering medical treatments in space.

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