Alice Springs losing the space race?


p2351 Robyn Lambley OKLETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – We are hearing that our precious funds from the sale of TIO currently deposited in the NT Industry Development Fund might be allocated to a Space Industry in Arnhem Land.
Negotiations seem to be well under way between the company behind the space proposal, Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), the NT Government, the owners of the land the Gumattj Corporation and the Northern Land Council.
News of this major project apparently reliant on significant public money demands more transparency than is currently being provided. If the NT Government is to invest all our remaining TIO proceeds into such a project then surely other NT sites must be considered.
Central Australia has always been highly regarded as an ideal location for space and aeronautical facilities.
Was Central Australia considered in this process as a possible sit for a Space Industry? Has the Central Land Council and other traditional land owners in Central Australia been asked to put in their proposals for this potentially massive business opportunity?
With three Labor NT Government Members of Parliament in Central Australia, one would hope that our interests are being represented in negotiations such as this, but I suspect not.
I want to know exactly what the process has been in planning for a Space Industry in the NT and why we in Central Australia have seemed to be excluded.
Robyn Lambley MLA (pictured)
Independent Member for Araluen


  1. Surely these kinds of facilities should be Federal projects, in which case Woomera seems the logical site. Unsure what if any Defence issues may be.
    With everything happening in the NT, we can ill-afford this luxury.
    If you look at the costs, it would be cheaper to send each of us to Cape Canaveral to watch several real launches.
    That will satisfy one of the desires on my bucket list.
    The bonus is that we won’t have the issue of people complaining about the noise of launches.
    Surely taxpayers’ money is better spent on other things!

  2. If there’s something going that will help build our community by providing jobs and infrastructure then every community in the Territory should have a chance to put their case.
    Alice Springs would, of course, have by far and away the best case. The area, existing facilities, and by far and away the best and most reliable weather! So, yeh, why aren’t we hearing about this Dale, Chansey, Scott?

  3. Would be great for The Alice, but I believe the location was chosen due to being closer to the equator.
    It’s cheaper to launch the closer to the equator you are, making building something there more viable.

  4. There’s nothing new about proposals for space launching facilities based somewhere in the Top End. In the 1960s the European Space Research Agency assessed the Top End as a potential location for launching satellites but opted instead for French Guiana in South America.
    The north of Australia in those times was considered too remote and expensive to operate such a facility.
    In September 1986 a British space engineering firm approached the NT Government for consideration of a satellite launching site but this never progressed. I vaguely recall the reason (apparently) why the Top End was rejected was because of concerns about the trajectory of rockets passing over New Guinea, any launch failures posing an unacceptable risk to population centres in that country. This seems no longer to be a major concern.
    The reason sites nearest the equator are preferred for rocket launches is because that’s where the Earth spins fastest on its axis, which gives added impetus for launches into orbit. The saving in fuel costs is considerable (a major reason why the US has its major launch facility at Cape Canaveral – previously Kennedy – in Florida, and the Europeans have theirs in French Guiana. Both sites have the advantage of launch trajectories tracking over the open ocean, too).
    Ironically, probably the best location on earth for a space launching site – located precisely on the equator and with open ocean to the east – also happens to be one of the most dangerous places on the planet: It is Mogadishu in Somalia!

  5. I have lodged these Written Questions to the NT Chief Minister. The responses are posted on the NT Legislative Assembly website within 30 days of lodgement.
    1. How was it determined that the Northern Territory Government support a space industry in Arnhem Land?
    2. Were other locations and sites in the Northern Territory considered by the Northern Territory Government?
    3. If so, please provide all details of what sites were considered and who and what organisations were involved in these negotiations?
    4. Were any sites in Central Australia considered in the process of establishing a suitable site for a space industry in the Northern Territory?
    5. If not, then why not?
    6. Please provide details of the when the Northern Territory Government commenced negotiations with Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) for the proposed space industry in the Northern Territory?
    7. At what stage are negotiations up to with the parties (Equatorial Launch Australia, the Northern Land Council and the Gumattj Corporation) to establish a space industry in the Northern Territory?
    8. Is it too late for Central Australia to be considered as a site for a Northern Territory Space Industry?
    9. What are the ideal climatic, geographical and physical conditions for a Space Industry to operate?


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