Recently, NASA scientists renowned for exploring Mars on rovers visited a remote site in North Territory. The area selected for the agency’s upcoming rocket launch missions to the Moon scheduled for the next year. Todd Barber and Tom Nolan, both working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, visited the now-called Gulkula Launch Site, a surrounding area Nhulunbuy, in north-east Arnhem Land.
When Mr. Nolan saw the place, he said that it resembled the red planet. NASA’s JPL works on an environment that emulates the one present on Mars, both in colour and texture. The site’s remoteness adds to its distinct advantage over the launch locations in Los Angeles for NASA’s launch activity. The area is unpopulated because it is located in the middle of nowhere, offering a great opportunity.
Gulkula Launch Site is situated in a consecrated and shrubby area covering a 65-hectare patch of land owned by Yolngu, not so far from the yearly Garma Festival. The area is under a sub-lease contract between the Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) and the Gumatj clan. ELA plans to loan the land as a sub-orbital launch vehicle site to aeronautical companies and NASA agencies.
The contract between NASA and Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) is an excellent opportunity for the entire area in Northern Territory. Even though NASA plans to conduct many inaugurations of space missions from various launch sites, the focus is not on the agency. There is a need for all the international partners across every industry to join and utilize the site for more space vehicle launches. Mr Barber believes that there is potential for many local economies to develop by involving companies from all industries. The development is possible through frosting projects that enhance Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM). The construction of the spaceport avails numerous kinds of job opportunities.
NASA is yet to establish infrastructure on the site because the space agency awaits the construction proposals. Klaus Helms, the Gumatj director, anticipated the works to start in 2019, but there are delays in approving the requests. Mr Helms said that the company wanted to commence construction works after the approval of the proposal applications. NASA’s scientists’ site visit is an excellent sign for Gumatj, in readiness to start groundworks. Involving the space agency helped the realization of the space launch site project.
In summary, Mr Helms termed the partnership as an excellent kickstart for project development. NASA looks forward to accelerating the development process to spearhead the agency’s mission to take a man back to the Moon by 2024. Technological advancements in the space industry favour such rapid developments because of innovation.