NASA launches a rocket from a commercial space base outside the United States for the first time

For the first time, the US space agency NASA launched a mission from a commercial launch site outside its territory. It’s also 27 years since NASA launched anything from Australia at all. It will follow the launch of two more operations from the base in early July.

The probe reached an altitude of 226 kilometers after launch and soon returned to Earth on parachutes. The rocket carried the University of Wisconsin’s Quantum X-ray Meter, an X-ray device.

During his brief stay in space, he measured X-rays from the innermost universe. In this way, the participating scientists hope to gather more information about interstellar dust and its effect on the formation of stars and galaxies.

near the equator

The Australian launch site is a good location for a mission to space. Its base is located near the equator, where the Earth rotates a little faster – a side effect of the Earth being spherical. Therefore, rockets have a slightly higher take-off speed when launched from the equator.

In addition, the weather in Australia is often dry and stable, unlike Florida. Regular rocket launches from the NASA base must be postponed due to rain or thunderstorms. However, this launch also threw a wrench in the works. Departure was delayed several times due to strong winds.

However, the fact that NASA has moved to Australia for these launches is primarily for scientific reasons. The three probes will, among other things, measure the Alpha Centauri system, which is made up of three separate stars. They are the stars closest to the sun in cosmic terms. Probes will look to see if life might exist on planets around those stars.

Alpha Centauri can only be seen clearly from the Southern Hemisphere. Since the probes remained in space for a short time, the launch from Australia was the best option.

the original people

For the launch, 70 NASA employees traveled from the United States to Australia. The space agency was the first customer of the new launch site, which is located on the Doboma plateau. That land still belongs to the Yolngu, the indigenous people of the Northern Australian region of Arnhemland. They have given special permission for the launches.

NASA promised to collect debris and other parts of the rocket that fell to Earth and transport it to the United States.

The launch from Australia fits with the expanded cooperation between the country and the United States. For example, the two countries work together on the Artemis missions, which have to return people to the moon, and the future moon chariot.

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