The world’s oldest living cultures is helping scientists understand galaxies and stars with the launch of the first of three NASA rockets from the Northern Territory.
The rocket is scheduled to launch from the Arnhem Space Centre on the Dhupuma Plateau, near Nhulunbuy, about 10.44pm on Sunday.
It will carry an X-ray Quantum Calorimeter, allowing University of Michigan scientists to measure interstallar X-rays with precision to provide new data on the structure and evolution of the cosmos.
About 75 NASA personnel are in Arnhem Land for the launch, which is the agency’s first in Australia in 27 years and first-ever from a commercial spaceport outside the US.
The Yolngu helped build Arnhem Space Centre, which is owned by Equatorial Launch Australia, on their land. They’re also taking part in the upcoming launch, including retrieving rocket modules when they return to Earth.
Gumatj Corporation chairman Djawa Yunupingu says the space industry can provide opportunities for the Yolngu people.
“We want our young people to see and take up the jobs and business opportunities that come from the growth of the Arnhem Space Centre over time,” he said in a statement.
NSA will launch another two rockets from the ELA complex on July 4 and July 12. These will have a probe to measure ultraviolet light and the structure of stars.
NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles says the launch will help attract global space investors to the Territory, which will provide jobs.
“The launching of a rocket from Arnhem Land is an incredible milestone for Australia in establishing the Northern Territory as a launch site and an important player in space exploration,” she said in a statement.
“Working with the Gumatj people in launching the rockets into space combines one of the oldest cultures in the world with some of the most advanced technology ever.