The owner and operator of the Arnhem Space Centre (ASC) in the Northern Territory is working towards a multi-launch contract with American space transportation and rocket manufacturing company Phantom Space Corporation.
Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), which signed a MOU with Phantom Space in 2022, also envisages an expanded scope and detail of future cooperation to develop mission profile and launch requirements for multiple launches from the ASC.
The scope expansion is ‘payload customer’ oriented with investigation into expansion of potential commercial and sovereign customers in the Asia Pacific region, according to a statement.
In particular, the two companies will collaborate and investigate the generation and support of a space mission of national significance for Australia and the Asia Pacific region.
Executive Chairman and Group CEO of ELA Michael Jones said the agreement with Phantom was the next step forward for Australia’s space industry.
Jones said: “We liked Phantom from the outset, their technology, commercial philosophy and quite frankly they have been a launch mentor for us from our first meeting. Their experience and knowledge is a clear standout in the small launcher market.
“Last year’s successful launches with NASA allowed us to showcase the skill and capabilities of both ELA and the ASC to the world. We’re excited to embark on that journey again, this time with Phantom Space Corporation.”
The announcement at the 38th Space Symposium highlighted the intention of Phantom Space to expand its launch base options with a pure commercial and equatorial launch site through ELA.
Phantom also plans to launch from both Vandenberg Space Force Base as well as Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The expanded scope of MOU will see Phantom work with ELA to become a “resident launcher”, as well as both parties engaging with sovereign and commercial customers to develop and design orbital missions of national importance and significance.
The timing of future launches will be dependent on the conclusion of a Technology Safeguards Agreement being signed between the United States and Australia which is currently being negotiated and is expected to be in place by early 2024.
ELA’s “resident launcher concept” would see Phantom occupy a customised version of ASC’s standard 1200sqm Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) which has all the necessary infrastructure for long term residency, such as ISO8 clean rooms, over-head cranes, storage facilities, offices and workshops. Phantom would also launch from one of two ASC standard launch pads allocated to Phantom, customised for Phantom’s unique requirements.
ELA is currently undertaking Phase 2 expansion of the Arnhem Space Centre with an additional 2,200 acres being added adjacent to the existing licenced spaceport. The ASC Phase 2 expansion includes at least 14 new orbital pads (allocated two per launch complex), up to 7 HIF facilities, a fuel and gases facility including the production of Liquid Oxygen (LOX), space weather facilities and comprehensive launch, mission and range control facilities and extensive communications and tracking equipment.
COO of Phantom Space Mark Lester said: “Launch sites are akin to gates at an airport—it’s imperative to have a robust portfolio to meet customer needs.
“Arnhem Space Centre fits perfectly into Phantom’s strategy as it broadens our direct access to new orbital regimes with a proven spaceport.”
Picture: Equatorial Launch Australia