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Justin Hendry

Hybrid rockets set to launch from NT space facility

South Korean rocket startup Innospace will use the Northern Territory as a launchpad for its world-leading hybrid-fueled rockets from 2025 after it signed a multi-year contract with Equatorial Launch Australia.

Innospace will launch a series of rocket variants with varying payloads of between 50kg and 500kg over the next five years from Equatorial Launch Australia’s (ELA) Arnhem Space Centre (ASC) on the Gove Peninsula.

It is the first commercial company to become a ‘resident launcher’ at the spaceport, which was used last year by NASA to launch three scientific suborbital sounding rockets – a milestone for the nascent commercial space sector.


In March, Innospace successfully launched a suborbital rocket from Brazil, powered by a 15-ton-thrust hybrid rocket engine that uses liquid oxygen and paraffin-based propellants, following several failed attempts.

The company is now working to scale up the hybrid motor and plans to develop a two-stage satellite launch vehicle capable of transporting a 50kg payload later this year. The vehicle is expected to enter the commercial launch service market from 2024.

ELA executive chairman and group chief executive Michael Jones said the contract was a major milestone for ELA and the ASC, describing Innospace as “one of the leaders in the emerging market of smaller launch providers”.

“INNOSPACE is one of the first of the next batch of ‘new space’ rocket companies to launch and with increasing congestion at major spaceports globally, INNOSPACE has recognised the unique launch/geographic, infrastructure and commercial benefits of launching from the ASC,” he said.

Mr Jones said ELA had been in discussions with the company for over a year, but that the resulting launch contract and space launch complex agreement provides Innospace the “flexibility they require around launching a range of launch vehicles at an increasing cadence”.

The first Innospace launches from the ASC are expected to take place in early 2025, with the company still undertaking the Australian Launch Permit process through the Australian Space Agency.

Innospace chief executive Soojong Kim said the ASC was an “optimal launch spaceport”, providing satellite customers “greater flexibility for their launch schedule and orbit access with frequent dedicated launch opportunities”.

ELA is continuing to work with other providers on similar launch agreements, with plans for up to seven resident launches in total. It follows discussions with the Australian Space Agency to expand its existing Launch Facilities Licence to support a range of orbital rocket launches.

“This contract demonstrates the potential for the ASC to deliver on our goal of being the pre-eminent commercial launch site globally,” Mr Jones said of the agreement with Innospace on Thursday.

“With the combination of our launch pad design/technology, launch inclination options, geopolitically stable base, infrastructure, logistics and engineering support solutions we have developed, we know we offer a highly competitive and attractive spaceport solution.”

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