At last, some potentially very good news came for Woomera on May 18, 2001, when the U.S. National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) announced that it was granting Kistler Aerospace Corporation US$136 million to participate in NASA's Space Launch Initiative Program to develop a re-usable successor to the Space Shuttle.

For the first time since 1970, Woomera is hopefully on the verge of being the launch site for satellites once more. The U.S. company, Kistler Aerospace Corporation, is developing one of the world’s first fully reusable launch vehicles, the Kistler K-1, and Woomera has been chosen to be the first site for the test launches and the first commercial launches as well. NASA will use test results from the K-1 vehicle.

Plans call for the vehicle to be launched from Woomera and carry its payload into orbit, after which the upper stage of the vehicle will return to Earth near the launch site.

A first launch date has not been announced.

Kistler Aerospace also plans to operate a spaceport at the Nevada Test Site about 100 kilometres northwest of Las Vegas in the U.S.A. to improve scheduling flexibility and to widen the range of launch azimuths available for customers.

Another wholly owned subsidiary, Kistler Woomera Pty. Ltd, will own and operate the K-1 vehicle from the Woomera spaceport.

Link: Kistler Aerospace


During 1999, SpaceLift Australia announced that it had signed an agreement with Russia for satellite launch services from Woomera using modified Russian SS-25 missiles converted to launch commercial satellites with a test launch in late 2000 and commercial launches commencing in 2001. The payloads would be intended for to Low Earth Orbit and be less than 800 kilograms.

The launch vehicle and support systems would be flown to Woomera aboard an Antonov 124 heavy transport aircraft. Customer payloads would be installed at the launch site.

 Link: SpaceLift

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Copyright © 1999-2000  Mark T. Rigby
(Updated: 16 October, 2001)