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NASA launches rocket for the first time from a commercial site outside the US

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It is the first NASA rocket to be launched from Australia since 1995.

Sydney:

NASA’s first launch from a commercial site outside the United States came from Australia’s outback late Sunday in a “historic” moment for the country’s space industry.

In three planned launches from Arnhem Space Center, the rocket, carrying technology comparable to that of the “Mini Hubble” telescope, lifted off about 350 kilometers (218 mi) into the night sky.

“This is a particularly important opportunity for us as a company, but it is historic for Australia,” Michael Jones, CEO of Equatorial Launch Australia, told AFP ahead of lift-off.

Jones, whose company owns and operates the launch site in Australia’s far north, described it as a “coming-up” party for the country’s space industry, and said that working with NASA would provide commercial opportunities in the country. The space was a milestone for the firms.

After a series of rain and wind delays, the suborbital sounding rocket soared into the sky to study the X-rays emanating from the Alpha Centauri A and B systems.

After reaching its peak, the rocket’s payload was to capture data on the star system before parachuting back to Earth.

According to NASA, the launch offers a unique glimpse of distant systems and opens up new possibilities for scientists.

Announcing the mission, Nicky Fox, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington, said, “We are excited to be able to launch important science missions from the Southern Hemisphere and see targets that we cannot from the United States.”

Jones said the unique location had made preparations difficult, with years of work to gain regulatory approval and the need to launch rockets at the launch site – about a 28-hour drive from Darwin in northern Australia.

“I think for the team, it’s going to be, you know, a huge relief that it’s done,” he said.

But with the next launch already on July 4, the break will be short-lived.

“We need to, you know, dust ourselves off, take a day off and then get back in it in preparation for the next launch because that’s just as important.”

It is the first NASA rocket to be launched from Australia since 1995, and the project was hailed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the beginning of a “new era” for the country’s space industry.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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