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Eyre Peninsula rocket launch abandoned after fire

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A test rocket launch from an Eyre Peninsula conservation zone has been abandoned for good after three failed attempts this month.

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The third failed attempt a week ago ended when the 10-metre, two-stage sub-orbital Hapith I caught fire on the launchpad.

Taiwanese company TiSPACE and Whalers Way operator Southern Launch have since inspected the launch vehicle, declaring yesterday afternoon that it would not be used for any further attempts.

The first attempt on September 10 was called off due to strong winds while the second was aborted on September 15 with the countdown at T-34 minutes after one of the rocket’s systems failed to come online.

After inspection of the Hapith I vehicle, post the September 16 launch attempt, Southern Launch and TiSPACE have concluded that we won’t continue with any further launch attempts of this particular vehicle.

“This test launch vehicle may not have taken Australia to space, however, it has provided our teams with valuable data and insights, which will lead TiSPACE in refining their launch vehicle capabilities further,” Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said.

The TiSPACE rocket was set to be the first to blast off from Southern Launch’s proposed new launchpad facility as part of a government-approved test.

The Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex is in a conservation zone about 25-kilometres southwest of Port Lincoln.

Southern Launch plans to use the test launch to gather noise and vibration data to determine the impact of rocket launches on native wildlife while it waits on approval to build two permanent launchpads at the Whalers Way site.

The proposal has received significant backlash from conservationists and local residents, who argue a rocket launchpad complex should not be built in a conservation zone that is home to several state and federal-listed threatened bird species.

Southern Launch is now preparing for the next two proposed test launch campaigns from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex set to take-off before the end of the year.

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