Commercial spaceport in Australia signs its first launch contract

Australia map showing ELA spaceport location
The red dot marks ELA’s location, on the north coast of Australia.

Australia’s first commercial spaceport, Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), has signed a multi-launch contract with a South Korean startup rocket company, Innospace, with the first launch targeting April 2025.

Though Innospace successfully launched a suborbital test flight in March, it has not yet launched a rocket to orbit. Meanwhile, ELA is negotiating with a number of other rocket companies, but it also appears it is having problems with the administrative state in the U.S.

The South Korean company is first off the blocks as it is not subject to the strict technological transfer regulations applied by the United States.

[ELA’s CEO Michael] Jones says delays to the signing of a Technological Safeguards Agreement (TSA) between Canberra and Washington is holding up several potential US customers. “We’re still waiting with bated breath for the TSA, despite a bilateral announcement by Biden and Albanese in Japan in early June that the deal was done and dusted,” he explains. “We were all expecting it to be released by the end of the financial year and the process of being endorsed by Parliament begun”.

A pattern of delay and intransigence in Washington, blocking commercial space, does seem to be developing since Joe Biden took over as president.