It was the first NASA flight in Australia since 1995.
NASA ‘s first spaceflight from a commercial site outside the United States took off Sunday night from Australia , a “historic” event for the country’s space industry.
This is the first of three flights scheduled to take off from the Arnhem space center (northern Australia ). The rocket, carrying a small space telescope described as a “mini Hubble”, blasted off at up to 350 km altitude in the middle of the starry night.
“It’s a historic moment for us as a company, but it’s also historic for Australia ,” Equatorial Launch Australia President Michael Jones said before liftoff.
His company owns and operates the launch site located in the north of the island. Jones called Sunday’s liftoff a “coming out” for the Australian space industry and declared himself lucky to be working with NASA .
After several delays due to rain and wind, the suborbital sounder rocket set off to study the X-rays emanating from the stars Alpha Centauri A and B, which together form a binary star.
After reaching its apogee, the rocket’s payload must record data about the binary system before re-descending to earth with the aid of a parachute.
According to NASA , this launch offers unique insights into other solar systems and new opportunities for scientists.
“We can’t wait to launch important science missions from the southern hemisphere and observe targets that we can’t see from the United States,” said Nicky Fox, director of NASA’s heliophysics department , presenting the mission in Washington.
The next release is scheduled for July 4.
It is the first NASA rocket to blast off from Australia since 1995. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hailed the start of a “new era” for the country’s space industry.