Woomera came into existence as a consequence of Britain's defence requirements following World War II. It needed a large, remote area in which to test new weapons systems. Various sites were considered, including one in Canada. In the end, Australia's vast and virtually unpopulated inland won the day, and the Long Range Weapons Establishment (Woomera rocket range) came into existence on 1 April 1947 as a Joint Project between Britain and Australia. The range was surveyed by the legendary Len Beadell and his team.

Woomera's history is one of weapons testing, satellite launches, and tracking of early lunar and planetary spacecraft, as well as the Mercury manned spacecraft. Highlights are listed below and other pages on this web site will give the history of various projects conducted at Woomera.

Woomera from the air
Map of the Prohibited Areas in red which were once under the control of the Woomera Rocket Range.
CLICK on the  image for a
larger version.
Map of the Prohibited Areas in red currently under the control of the Woomera Rocket Range.
CLICK on the  image for a
larger version.

1 Apr. 1947 Long Range Weapons Establishment formed between the
United Kingdom and Australia.
24 Apr. 1947 The name Woomera selected for the new town  associated
with the rocket range.
22 Mar. 1949 First missile launched from Woomera.
13 Feb. 1957 First Skylark rocket launch.
7 Sep. 1958 First Black Knight launch.
5 Jun. 1964 First Europa launch - modified Blue Streak. 
Launched to the northwest.
24 May 1966 First Europa launch with dummy upper stages and 
satellite. Flight terminated after 136 seconds. 
Launched to the north.
29 Nov. 1967 WRESAT 1 satellite launched on a U.S. Redstone 
rocket. First Australian satellite.
23 April 1969 The decision was announced to build the U.S. Nurrungar
Defence satellite monitoring station near Woomera.
12 Jun. 1970 Last Europa launch from Woomera. All stages fired, 
but the Italian satellite failed to orbit.
28 Oct. 1971 British Prospero satellite launched into orbit on a Black
Arrow launch vehicle.
22 Dec. 1972 NASA's Island Lagoon deep space tracking station closed. 
Jan.  1982 Woomera village became "derestricted".
Mar. 1991 RAAF's Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU)
assumed management of the Woomera Prohibited Area and
the Woomera Instrumented Range from the Defence
Science and Technology Organisation.
1994 The RAAF handed management of the Woomera Prohibited
Area to the Defence Support Centre Woomera, while
keeping management of the Woomera Instrumented Range.
1996 The Japanese Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) and the National
Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) conducted
their Automatic Landing Flight Experiment (ALFLEX) project
trials to gather data for a planned Japanese "space shuttle".
1 Oct. 1999 U.S. Nurrungar tracking station closed.

A History of Woomera
Research Missiles
Tracking Stations
Range News
Gibber Gabber
Woomera Village
Woomera Life
Memories of Woomera

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Copyright © 1997-2001  Mark T. Rigby
(Last updated: 24 October, 2001)