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Where to watch a rocket launch in East Arnhem

Lift off IN EAST ARNHEM!

The first commercial rocket launch in Australian history has been successfully launched from the Arnhem Space Centre! Watch the live stream playback here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSfugtxlXmw

Launch #2 is scheduled for 4 July 2022 at 8.24pm.


Yes, you heard it right! We have rockets launching in East Arnhem Land! 

On this page:

ABOUT THE ARNHEM SPACE CENTRE

ELAs Arnhem Space Centre 2

The Arnhem Space Centre is owned and operated by Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) and is located on the Dhupuma Plateau just outside Nhulunbuy. The launch facility will initially be equipped with three launch pads to accommodate sub-orbital and small orbital satellite launch vehicles. The facility’s design will allow the site to reliably scale to support all current and future launch and recovery technologies. All orbits are achievable from Arnhem Space Centre, with comparative advantage in launches to equatorial low earth orbit, geosynchronous equatorial orbit, lunar orbit and deep space.

In early June 2022, ELA welcomed more than 70 NASA personnel to Nhulunbuy as the first clients of ELA to launch from the Arnhem Space Centre.

On Sunday 26 June at 11.59pm, the first of three NASA sounding rockets was launched from the Arnhem Space Centre on the Gove Peninsula. This was the first commercial launch in Australian space history and the first time NASA had launched a rocket from Australia since 1995.

Learn more about the Arnhem Space Centre on the Equatorial Launch Australia website, via the ELA FAQs page or follow them on Facebook

Rocket launch times

In June and July 2022, three rocket launches will take place from the Arnhem Space Centre:

  • LAUNCH #1 - Sunday 26 June @ 10:44pm - SUCCESSFUL!
  • LAUNCH #2 - Monday 4 July @ 8:24pm
  • LAUNCH #3 - Tuesday 12 July @ 8:27pm

where to watcH

If you’re in Nhulunbuy and surrounding areas, we have good news - if you have a direct line of sight into the sky, you will be able to see the rocket approximately 10 seconds after launch, and it will be visible for ~30 seconds depending on cloud cover.
 
NASA have advised that any location that has a good view of the sky looking South West from Nhulunbuy (230 degree magnetic trajectory) will be great for viewing the rocket launches! The below viewing areas are suggested for the Gove Peninsula. The red line indicates the direction of the Arnhem Space Centre where the rocket will be launched from. The rocket will then head South West (230 degree magnetic trajectory). 
 
Please don't try to get too close to the Arnhem Space Centre. Areas directly surrounding the launch site will be closed during the launches to ensure everyone remains safe, this includes the road to Bawaka homeland and the Garma site which will be closed from 2pm on launch days. The Central Arnhem Road will remain open at all times.
 
For more information about the launches, check out the FAQs section below! 
  • Hindle Oval - 14 Eugenia Ave, Nhulunbuy NT 0880 Nhulunbuy Hindle Oval
  • Yirrkala Oval - for residents of Yirrkala only Yirrkala Oval
  • Gunyaŋara Oval - for residents of Gunyaŋara only Gunyangara Oval
  • Location of sites on Gove Peninsula Arnhem Space Centre direction
 

FAQs

CAN I COME TO NHULUNBUY TO WATCH THE ROCKET LAUNCHES?

East Arnhem Land gets very busy in June/July/August and it is highly recommended to book all your accommodation and campsites in advance as we are already seeing most operators booked out for this period. Therefore, unless you already have accommodation and camping booked for June/July this year we would suggest that it would be unlikely you would find availability for accomodation during the rocket launching period for 2022. 

Make sure you check this page every so often to make sure you remain up to date on any future launch activity for your chance to be a part of Australia's space story! 

Is there a video link where I can watch the launchES?

Launch #1 conducted on 26 June was successful and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSfugtxlXmw
There will not be a live stream of launches #2 and #3. 
 

How long will you be able to see THE ROCKETS for WHEN THEY LAUNCH?

Approximately 10 – 30 seconds. Rockets travel fast – make sure not to blink! You might also be able to hear a 'boom' as the rocket takes off, with reports of people hearing launch #1 over 30kms away Nhulunbuy!

On a clear night with no cloud cover, the rocket should be able to be viewed immediately after lift off for approximately 30 seconds and you will be able to track the rocket into the upper reaches of earth’s atmosphere. 

Is there a chance the launch will be delayed?

A successful launch is dependent on many things, including the weather! For launch #2 which is scheduled for Monday 4 July @ 8:24pm, ELA and NASA have a launch window until 12.21am in the morning. This means that if there are strong winds or other factors that delay the launch, they still have a bit of time up their sleeve to get it up in the air that night. Otherwise, they can reschedule the launch for the following day. It is not uncommon for rocket launches to be rescheduled given the complexities involved - so we just have to be patient! 

how big are the rockets?

The rockets being launched by NASA in 2022 are called sounding rockets and are 14 metres in height. 

Sounding rockets take their name from the nautical term "to sound," which means to take measurements. Sounding rockets are Sub-Orbital which means they are not placed into any orbit. 

What are the rockets for?

The rocket being launched on 4 July will study how ultraviolet light from stars affects the atmospheres of the planets around them, including the gases thought to be signs of life.

The rocket that was launched on 26 June observed the Galactic soft X-ray bulge and attempt to determine its nature and emission mechanisms. The night sky glows with X-ray light coming from all directions and much of this X-ray light is produced by the interstellar medium, which includes hot gases filling the space between the stars.

Learn more about what the rockets are for on ELA's FAQ page!
 

WILL THERE BE MORE LAUNCHES IN THE FUTURE?

Yes, the Arnhem Space Centre has capacity to launch over 50 rockets per year. Three launches have been confirmed for 2022.

Check this page every so often to make sure you remain up to date on any future launch activity.

CAN I SEE IT FROM DARWIN? 

Most likely, you will not be able to see the rocket launches from Darwin or anywhere outside of East Arnhem Land. 

Will East Arnhem Land be rocket launch capital of Australia?

We hope so. Equatorial Launch Australia aims to launch over 50 rockets per year.

Can I visit the Arnhem Space Centre after the launches?

Not at the moment, but there are plans to open the Arnhem Space Centre to visitors in the future - watch this space!

What else can I do in East Arnhem Land?

East Arnhem Land is home to incredibly rich Aboriginal culture and offers visitors a chance to see one of Australia’s last unspoiled tropical paradises, a pristine coastline unknown to many, rich with biodiversity.

For more information on what to see and do in East Arnhem Land, please visit the Things to Do section of our website! 

MY QUESTION ISN'T ANSWERED HERE AND I WANT TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE DIRECTLY

If you have any further questions about visiting East Arnhem Land, you can contact us here

If you have any further questions about ELA or the rockets being launched in East Arnhem Land, you can contact ELA here