Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that the country will launch NASA rockets for the first time in 27 years within a month.
Albanese and the head of the Australian Space Agency (ASA) Enrico Palermo on Wednesday said three NASA suborbital sounding rockets will lift off from the Arnhem Space Centre in the Northern Territory (NT) between June 26 and July 12.
It will be the first time the U.S. space program has launched a rocket from Australia since 1995 and its first-ever launch from a commercial launchpad on foreign soil.
Seventy-five NASA personnel will travel to Australia to oversee the launches, which will be used to study heliophysics, astrophysics, and planetary science, according to the media release on Wednesday.
Albanese said the launches would build on the legacy of the Australian space industry.
“We can trace Australia’s celebrated connection to the space industry back to the 1950s,” he said. “This project will bring together the global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era.”
The Australian Space Agency (ASA) was established by the previous government to create 20,000 new jobs and increase the value of the industry to 12 billion Australian dollars (8.6 billion U.S. dollars) by 2030.
Palermo, who has served as head of the ASA since 2021, said the NASA launches would help deliver on those goals.
“The growth of launch-related activities in Australia is helping to open up the full value chain of space activities, which will grow the sector and create new businesses and job opportunities here at home,” he said.
The Arnhem Space Centre is located in the Northern Territory’s East Arnhem region, just 12 degrees from the equator, allowing launch vehicles to leverage the earth’s rotation to gain extra velocity, according to the introduction from the NT website.