Spaceport Australia prepares for lift-off

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The proposed Spaceport Australia would use air launch vehicles for space burials and space tourism activities (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Plans are afoot to establish a spaceport in Australia. The town of Rockhampton in Queensland is one of three locations currently being considered as a potential site for the base, which would focus primarily on space tourism.

Speaking to Gizmag, John Moody of Spaceport Australia said that the facility would cater for both government and private enterprise using air launch vehicles for space burials and other space tourism activities, and eventually establishing an offsite launch terminal for the delivery of nano satellites to orbit.

Operators such as XCOR Lynx and S3 Systems are being canvassed as potential participants in the venture.

While the location has not been finalized, Moody says that Rockhampton is favored because of its proximity to the state's capital, Brisbane, and the fact that it has an existing airport which is currently used by the military and its a short distance from the ocean. The development would also bring much needed employment and tourism to the region.

To get the project up and running, the existing infrastructure only needs a 1,000 ft (305 m) run of road added, and a new hangar, along with a visitor center and offices, need to be built.

Moody has been working on the project for two and a half years, but ramped up his efforts in recent months and momentum is starting to build.

Spaceport Australia Founder John Moody (left) with Andrew Nelson, President of XCOR

Moody says that the first stage of the project could be completed in as little as two years at a cost of around $12.5 million. Both state and federal governments in Australia and space officials in the US have expressed support in preliminary discussions, and Ethan Chew, (NASA ex contractor, DARPA) has recently joined Spaceport Australia as Chief Technical Advisor.

With Virgin Galactic and SpaceX leading the new era of private space flight and a similar project on the cards in the UK, the commercial imperatives of putting a spaceport in the Southern Hemisphere with access to growing Asian markets are obvious, but for Moody the underlying motivation is simply to bring the wonder of space travel to a wider audience.

"I'm the guy who was amazed by Star Wars as a seven year old kid. Space travel is cool."

That it is. We'll keep you posted as the story of Spaceport Australia unfolds.

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