Rockets Fired into the Eyre

Craig Brokensha picture
Craig Brokensha (Craig)
Swellnet Dispatch

The South Australian Eyre Peninsula is again the focus of unwanted attention, this time in the form of a rocket launch facility at the southern end of the peninsula, forty kilometres south of Port Lincoln.

The site is at Whalers Way, immediately south of Fishery Beach, and is managed by Adelaide company Southern Launch. If all goes to plan, Whalers Way will become "the Cape Canaveral" of Australia.

Whalers Way Sanctuary

The project has alarmed many Port Lincoln locals. For one, it was originally proposed that only orbital satelites would be launched from Whalers Way, however news has come to light that weapons testing is also included in the scope.

Today's Australian reports, "Whalers Way in South Australia will be used to discreetly test Thales’s advanced rocket motors and guided munitions. Southern Launch’s own high-technology supply chain will build missile and rocket motor bodies for these new weapons."

None of this was mentioned in Christian Porter's official announcement of Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, yet it represents an escalation from economic utility to defence facility.

Also concerning local residents is Southern Launch's success to date. September saw three failed rocket launches, one of which caught fire during the ignition stage requiring the assistance of ten Country Fire Service (CFS) members. With low rainfall, dry soil, and a landscape marked by scrub, the lower Eyre Peninsula is a high risk bushfire zone. Serious fires were fought in 2005, 2015, and 2019, with minor fires every other bushfire season. Southern Launch note that CFS members will be in attendance during launches.

Though Southern Launch have started modestly, they plan to make Whalers Way the "centre of gravity" for a permanent large scale launch facility. The current plan needs to be assessed with these ambitions in mind. The rockets that will be launched will vary from 9 to 39 metres tall, a not insignificant size when considering the Space Shuttle measures 56 metres.

Local opponents have noted the site is home to rare fauna such as the square-tailed kite (only photographed recently after a last recorded sighting in 2004). Transformation of the area into an industrial zone will destroy the habitat of such fauna.

Harder to quantify will be the loss of solitude and open space currently cherished by locals and visitors alike. For surfers, the drive south from Lincoln, past salt lakes and dense mallee scrub, brings a sense of calm, as does camping anywhere on the lower peninsula where a timeless landscape is a salve for modern life.

Ironically, the Southern Launch facility will be used to speed up technology and communications, further intensifying the need to escape from them.

The Hapith I before its failed launch in September. (ABC News: Evelyn Leckie)

While there have already been protests at the entrance to Whalers Way and in Port Lincoln the past few months, this fresh news regarding weapons testing has fired up the community again, leading to another planned protest this Sunday. For those interested, the protest will occur at the entrance to Whalers Way, 10am this Sunday. If you can't attend add your signature sign this petition to protect this fragile environment.

Please share the petition and this story to prevent Whalers Way becoming “the Cape Canaveral" of Australia.

Comments

ryder's picture
ryder's picture
ryder Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 3:03pm

CFS members are volunteers. So these volunteers must sit around for hours while little boys in suits play with their rockets.
Furthermore, this facility was being built while still in the consultation stage only a couple of months ago.

lilas's picture
lilas's picture
lilas Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 4:27pm

When we are such a massive country with so much derelict land, why put these things on Primo land right on our front door?
Well someone signed the go ahead for it, so may they forever rot in hell!
Hope the locals can fight back against this utter stupidity as petition's are great but nothing beats feet on the ground.

Charlie Brown's picture
Charlie Brown's picture
Charlie Brown Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:24am

They want to launch into a polar orbit - as opposed to the more usual equatorial orbit - which means they need private land that faces south (preferably over the ocean) with no settlement in the path. There aren't a lot of spots that would tick off all of these requirements.
Unfortunately the fact that the Eyre Peninsula's most popular beach - replete with two fun point breaks - is right next door doesn't mean much to these people cos pointy heads don't surf.

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 5:45pm

Plenty of other places it could be located. Why here? Shocking approval and consultation as usual. Who's speaking for the alliance over their and whats their view? What links are avail to support their action and inform eg facebook instagram,radio, news. Surely it could be re located to a pre industrial area of development. Existing defence grounds to the north etc. Whalers way is a significant and great part of the Port Lincoln experience that needs to be preserved.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 5:36pm

Apparently it's the best location for launching rockets into polar orbit and over an uninhabited region. Rockets are now being launched not along the equators axis but at 90 degrees to this from north/south, known as polar orbit.

"Most commercial rocket launch pads in use today were built in the 1960's and 1970's. These facilities were purpose built, each designed to only operate a single manufacturer's rockets and predominantly launching large GEO satellites.

To support these orbits most of the facilities were built as close to the Earth's equator as possible to maximize the inertial velocity imparted on the launch vehicle through the Eastward rotation of the Earth and minimise any on-orbit manoeuvres required to shift the satellite orbit plane (inclination) given the additional satellite fuel required to perform the operation.

Physically, the revolutionary shift from GEO to LEO Polar and SSO orbits represents a 90-degree shift in orbit inclination (Figure 2.1). Few of the current launch pads throughout the world are capable of easily and safely launching a rocket into these Polar or SSO orbits without the satellites expending a prohibitively large amount of fuel to shift the orbit inclination."

From Southern Launches FAQ: https://www.southernlaunch.space/frequently-asked-questions

Southern Launch has selected the location of Whalers Way to launch from for several significant factors, including:

  • The Whalers Way location allows for direct ascent to Polar & Sun Synchronous orbits
  • Proximity to established industry infrastructure that can support rocket launches;
  • Good year-round weather; and 
  • Unhindered southward launch trajectories across unpopulated areas with low density air and nautical traffic lanes. 
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 6:18pm

little bit info online. Wiki, news, company etc. ABC news https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-18/rocket-rally-port-lincoln/1005471...

hoody's picture
hoody's picture
hoody Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 6:17pm

The more you read about this project the fishier it gets.
Government Backing 4.2million to southern launch.
Port Lincoln mayor on the payroll of Southern Launch before retiring. Still Mayor tho.
Zoned as a conservation area.
Area contains multiple endangered/threatened animals.
Stages to be dumped at sea breaking more rules.

There is much more too!
Thinking what's happening now is just the thin end of the wedge or lube for bigger things to come.

.cylinders's picture
.cylinders's picture
.cylinders Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 7:07pm

Similar facility in Mahia NZ from my understanding.

It is happenings such as Southern Launch that really demonstrate how little the political and business class think of ordinary Australians. Whether the issues you care about are C19, mandatory V, defense spending, fossil fuels, climate change, fracking, water allocation, indigenous issues, foreign investment, etc etc. the argument against the assertion that the voting class are being treated very poorly by the leaders they "elect" is a weak one at best. If there were a possibility that the political process could actually represent (and effectively action) the views of ordinary Australians, I reckon we would not see such a brazen approach to impinging on the values of everyday people.

shortenism's picture
shortenism's picture
shortenism Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 7:28pm

Fishier alright, Christian Porter even gets a mention..

Johno210's picture
Johno210's picture
Johno210 Wednesday, 10 Nov 2021 at 9:54pm

Interestingly the same company this time last year was launching rockets 40km west of Ceduna near Koonibba Aboriginal Community. Feedback on regional radio at the time was positive given community involvement in the project but there launches did have technical hitches. For whatever reason they have moved there ops to Whalers Way which is closer to airports and population. Pity because a modern rocket industry in remote South Australia could work as it did in the past at Woomera - low population and stable weather conditions.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 6:58am

It looks like the Koonibba site crosses too many air traffic routes when launching north and into high orbit, while to the south there is only one..

This from my comment above (last point)..

Why will Southern Launch operate from Whalers Way?

Southern Launch has selected the location of Whalers Way to launch from for several significant factors, including:

- The Whalers Way location allows for direct ascent to Polar & Sun Synchronous orbits

- Proximity to established industry infrastructure that can support rocket launches;

- Good year-round weather; and

- Unhindered southward launch trajectories across unpopulated areas with low density air and nautical traffic lanes.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 6:52am
FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:35am

Hey Ben , saw your link , that is impressive . One wonders at the power source to drive a gyro sort of machine like that but it’s gotta be better than the obscene amount of fuel burnt for a rocket launch.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:38am

Lot of hamsters.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:43am

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 6:50pm

That was some good internet udo.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 8:29pm

Love the hamster clip!

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 8:58pm

Ahhh that's how they do it. Those little buggers have got some energy. Love the Hawaiian tunes!

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups Sunday, 14 Nov 2021 at 7:27am

This one is worth a watch as well.

FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:47am

Ha Ha , those hammies must be on the gear to generate that much oomph

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:39am

Actual audio recorded at the launchpad.

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:45am

Found a picture of the launch technician too:

FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf's picture
FrankSurf Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:49am

stop it

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 10:38am

May not be directly related to the topic but a few months back I was gobsmacked to see Elon's Starlink satellites unexpectedly stream overhead. 'Twas a very early morning surf check, silent, no-one around, when a string of fairy lights appeared in the south and flew very fast overhead, taking maybe five minutes from horizon to horizon.

No doubt you've been out camping or whatnot and spotted a distant, solitary pin prick of light moving slowly across the firmament, conjuring up romantic visions of Major Tom or Elton's Rocket Man.

These are nothing like that.

More a streaming neon billboard - there are about thirty satellites in each Starlink train - that's less 'in the stars' and more in your face. There are currently 1,600 Starlink satellites in orbit, and soon there'll be 42,000.

Gattica here we come.

Max Wax's picture
Max Wax's picture
Max Wax Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 6:22pm

I saw those lights last year whilst camping remotely and i swear it resembled Santa Clause and his 9 reindeer like in the cartoons!

philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizingkerching's picture
philosurphizing... Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 7:34am

A bloke by the name of Mark Handley has created an impressive animation of what you described.
It's like a giant net around the earth.

science's picture
science's picture
science Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 10:53am

mmmmm Kessler Syndrome.

With enough orbiting debris the space age can permanently grind to a hault.

&t=868s

mcbain's picture
mcbain's picture
mcbain Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 4:18pm
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Thursday, 11 Nov 2021 at 9:01pm

A mate of mine sent me the link to sign this a month or two ago. Life long generational Port Lincoln local. Lives west of town. Haven't had the chance to have a good yak to him yet, but signed it. He's one of the many crew that tread lightly and deeply respect this coastline.

ben-colyer's picture
ben-colyer's picture
ben-colyer Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 1:04pm

So what is Woomera for, if not for rocket and weapon testing? Why is all this launching not going on there?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 1:05pm

Woomera is government but this is private..

PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan Friday, 12 Nov 2021 at 8:13pm

I certainly did'nt vote for these Clowns . Petition signed !

When you think of Liberal/National Coalition , just add the word . . . EXPLOITATION as a reminder .

mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside's picture
mick-burnside Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 8:32am

Kind of sad. Bio weapons, Neuclear weapons.
Internationally our leaders are taking us into the future, and this is labelled progress.
Seems more about greed to me.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher Saturday, 13 Nov 2021 at 10:27pm

Woomera is the World's largest Land based Rocket test range...(Still Oz Biggest!)
Govt + US gave it a makeover as it has excellent privacy for (Top Secret weapons Testing)

NT. Equatorial NASA (Future Deep Space) Near Equator Site has multi Orbit Options.
https://ela.space/

Qld : Gilmour / Hypersonix / Boeing Defence Rocket Launch
(Qld are huge on Aerospace Scramjets - Drones + Rocket Fuels + Military grade Metal Mines/Quarries
NT ADF Port Rail V line across top JC to T'ville > down to Bne > Inland rail to Parkes ADF logistics

Check how Qld / US have lined up all 'Defense' onto a Military Rollout on the Main line around Qld
NT ADF > Boeing Drone Tests V Mine > T'ville ADF > Boeing Rockets > Twiggy Navy Fuel > Bne Port.
Bne Wagners US Subs/Navy @ Scomo Q > Carbon supplies > RAAF Jets > Wellcamp Q / Drone Plant
# 1 World's Cbd Quarantine at Boeing Wellcamp flies out #1 Drugs > back via Drone 'Vanadium' mine.
Inland Rail Hooks up Arms to all Ports by 2026...
https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/key-enablers/8161-queensland-launch-co...

Southern Launch (Cube Sats) Media / IT ( Feature says Military & yes! **Starshots* Sat mostly!
Possible Starshots* shield but unsure of Weapons? re: Woomera / Qld Boeing.
Southern Launch sister site gets talked down or they refer to this new site.
Seems to be a start up link to Gilmour...possibly as all new Oz space race works as a unit.(Fuels & stuff)

Alt sites (Ruled Out)...(Qld / NT - Fly over neighbours!) Speaking of Sub / low orbital...quickies...
NSW / Vic South flies over > (Tas - which is too remote)
Sale / Kangaroo Is / Albany / Cape Douglas / Portland / Portland / Cape Jervis / Ceduna / Mid Eyre Peninsula / Port Lincoln.

Southern Launch EIS (Photo stash for Craig...seriously! Heaps of Cool [Locals Only] Beach Bum shots).
Solid read 742 pages...
https://plan.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/880256/Whalers_Way_Or...

Baptism of Fire ... The fizzer and a towering inferno ...sounds like a proper Rocket Launch Pad.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-16/whalers-way-rocket-lift-off-delay...

Site considerations
Qld can't up scale to Interstellar as it's bounded by GBR + Tourist Resorts
NSW / Vic sold off shore Gas / Oil Leases that don't fancy "Lock Downs" or Space Junk

Coastal / Outpost (Easy Secure!) needs to be both (1 hour) near / from Major Air/Port City...
Low Shipping / Air traffic + Southern Launch Angles

Strategic Shipping Lane Games...
"Major Project" overrides & locks down Shipping / Air / Rail access.
2013 Oz Govt defence approved rail override for 2hrs at a time and or for a day / week
Only guessing that Power extends to Shipping as in RAAF Air Zones > switch off radar.
We would be looking at a No > Radar / Fly over / Shipping / Fishing / Surfboards Zone ...

Exclusion Zone is determined by Rocket Size & Trajectory + This site seems likely to Upgrade.
So pretty much these chaps make up the rules depending on who's mate shows up! Like a Takeout!
Worst case scenario...Taiwanese flaming Rocket Launches over the bow of WA Chinese Tanker.
Thankfully Scomo wouldn't blockade the Chinese for a payback South Sea Stand Off.

Scomo: "Oz joins global momentum to tackle Space Junk...Oops! Meant to say Chinese Junk!"

Oz Space Junk Policy...Aiming for Zero seabed by 2050.

Noise : 135 dB Pad > 95dB @ 2km.
Up to 36 Launches in 5th year
Rockets 9-30m > Casings (Remain) on site & can be reused
Boosters 2-3m x 400mm (100's will Litter 3-8kms across the ocean ) No clean up.
Nose Cones 1-1.5m x 50mm (100's will Litter 40-150kms over the ocean) No collection.

Oz Govt commits to recycling all Southern Ocean Space junk into Marine Debris by 2050..
Greta applauds our Colossal Fossils for cleaning up their act!

Leebo20's picture
Leebo20's picture
Leebo20 Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 9:21am

Signed
In my opinion, anything from Christian Porter doesn't pass the stink or pub test.
This is stupid. Leave the area as it is

Martin Howard's picture
Martin Howard's picture
Martin Howard Monday, 15 Nov 2021 at 10:03am

Drove the whaler's way this winter for the first time. Absolutely spectacular. A must visit place you need to see before it's stuffed.