A space testing information day was held at Koonibba on Thursday 30 January following months of planning between Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation (KCAC) and Southern Launch, with support provided by Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP).

School children, teaching and support staff, CDP participants, Eyreplus representatives and community members were all keen to hear about the exciting rocket launch proposal.

Kevina Ware (KCAC Chairperson) advised that the process to get to the launching date had taken 18 months as KCAC wanted to ensure all issues were being addressed including outcomes for the community and safety issues.

RDAWEP’s Indigenous Economic Development Manager, Howard Coote informed the community group on the processes that were followed including why Koonibba was chosen, leasing of the land and obtaining of the licence to be able to test rockets. Mr Coote also mentioned the economic, employment, education and social benefits that the community would access as a result of the venture.

Andrew from Southern Launch was introduced by CEO Lloyd Damp who presented a video of how space launches work. It was amazing to see the look on the faces of the students and their interaction with the presenters. A comment from the school principal, “I have never seen some of the students be that attentive for such a long period of time”.

The group then moved to the oval where children took part in a paper plane competition, followed by the mini rockets (on which the students had written their names) being fired into the air. The students provided the countdown and the rockets exploded into the air with amazing speed. KCAC provided a fire service which was not needed.

The Koonibba site will be used to launch and recover rockets to undertake space research prior to launching into orbit. The timeline for the first launch is still being worked through, with hopes it will have lift off in the next couple of months. Southern Launch has received all approvals to use the land and is now waiting on launch permits from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Australian Space Agency.

Photo: Corey McLennan, Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation and Lloyd Damp, Southern Launch