Australia and the U.S. agree to facilitate rocket launches in Australia

A technology agreement announced on October 25, 2023 between Australia and the U.S. included language that will allow for American rocket companies to launch from Australia, as well as Australian rocket companies to launch American satellites.

According to the White House statement, the agreement…

…provides the legal and technical framework for U.S. commercial space launch vehicles to launch from Australia in a manner that: protects sensitive U.S. launch technology and data in Australia consistent with our shared nonproliferation goals; and creates the potential for new space-related commercial opportunities.

A private Australian spaceport, Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), has been working to bring U.S. launches there. In addition, an Australian rocket startup, Gilmour Space, wants to launch American payloads. This new government agreement is supposed to facilitate both.

Australian rocket startup Gilmour preps for first test launch

Gilmour Space Technologies, a new Australian rocket startup, is now targeting April for the first test launch of its three-stage Eris rocket from a launchpad on the northeast coast of Australia.

Standing 25 m (82 ft) high, [Eris] has a first-stage diameter of 2 m (6.6 ft), and a second-stage diameter of 1.5 m (4.9 ft), and it’s designed to take a payload mass up to 305 kg (672 lb) up as high as 500 km (311 miles) for delivery to sun-synchronous or equatorial orbits. The Eris will be powered by five of Gilmour’s own Sirius rocket engines. This is a hybrid engine, meaning it uses a liquid oxidizer but a solid fuel. In a final bench test to destruction, it generated 115 kilonewtons (25,850 lbf) and burned for more than 90 seconds before exploding.

More information here.