The development of small satellite technologies (SmallSats) has ushered in an era of dynamic and responsive space systems. Hundreds, and soon thousands, of these small platforms will be launched into Low Earth Orbits (LEO) every year. LEO are ideal for Earth Observation missions and other near-earth activities, including internet with global coverage. Approximately half of these SmallSats are projected to be launched into Polar Orbits with the other half orbiting around the equator.
According to recent estimates, close to 1000 SmallSats will be launched annually from 2025 onwards. These satellites will be inserted into new and existing LEO constellations, offering innovative new services to the world while actively limiting the proliferation of space debris in orbits. SmallSats in LEO remain there for less than three years before burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Historically, launch sites have been constructed closer to the equator to support large satellites launches into equatorial orbit. However, direct launch to polar orbit is achieved most efficiently from launch sites nearer the poles, which have minimal interference from aviation and maritime traffic.
Southern Launch, founded in 2017, is developing a multi-user launch complex at the tip of the Eyre Peninsula in SA, offering a turn-key launch service solution to polar and sun-synchronous orbit.
In addition to providing the complete launch infrastructure, Southern Launch has the ability to undertake flight and range safety, vehicle design, avionics componentry and assist with launch permitting and other support services. The year-round temperate weather coupled with the highly skilled local workforce and a robust logistics supply network enables a launch site that offers high cadence launch operations at cost competitive prices.
The growing global demand for launch services and a unique launch location has attracted several early investors, with Southern Launch running an oversubscribed seed funding round at the end of 2019 with a larger Series A round to be finalised in coming months.
“The space industry is in the midst of a rapid transition seeing increasing impact of the private sector providing services to government agencies such as NASA,” CEO, Southern Launch, Lloyd Damp, said. “Small satellites, in the class of one to 500 kg, are a major part of this transition and need suitable locations to be launched from.
“Our Whalers Way site in SA meets this market demand and with the ongoing support from the Australian Space Agency and SA Government, we are on track to realise this very real opportunity for Australia.”
Southern Launch is also cooperating with DEWC Systems to deliver the first fully Australian designed, developed, launched and operated Defence satellite system.
Construction of the Whaler’s Way Orbital Launch Complex is scheduled to be completed ahead of the first launch in 2021, with Southern Launch already contracted for flights.