Koonibba is now home to Australia’s first rocket launch from a commercial test site – becoming a part of history once more. The first attempt was on Tuesday 15 September 2020, but it was a misfire. Leaving a myriad of travelers and tourists keen to witness the historic moment disappointed. Four days later, however, another attempt was made, and this time it was a success.
Australia’s first commercial, space capable rocket blasted off from the Koonibba test range. Southern Launch, the company behind the rocket, aimed to launch the rocket 85km into space, which would make it the highest a commercial rocket had reached from Australian Soil.
The idea is that the rocket reaches space, and ejects a small payload, which then collects information with its built-in sensors on its journey back to earth to assist with the development of satellite technology. Once the payload and the rocket have fallen back to earth, a recovery effort to find them will be undertaken so the data can be used.
While the second launch attempt was a success, sadly, none of the 200 Koonibba community members were in attendance to watch the successful launch.
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall was in attendance Tuesday, saying “All of the previous launches have been government launches, so it is a historic time and I think this is really a taste of what’s to come in Australia”.
Southern Launch has two sites across South Australia. The Koonibba site, and one on the other side of the Eyre Peninsula at Whalers Way.
Southern Launch is hoping to launch a rocket a couple of times a month, with the aim to increase that number as the industry in South Australia grows.
A little about Koonibba and its famous history
Koonibba was founded as an ”Aboriginal mission” in 1901 on the West Coast of South Australia. It’s about a forty-kilometer drive from Ceduna and has become a part of history by having the oldest, still existing Australian Rules Football Club in Australia.
Koonibba is now a successful community near the traditional lands of the Wirangu, Kokatha and Mirning peoples. In 1906, the Koonibba Football Club was founded – and played against teams from Denial Bay, Charra, Penong and Ceduna.
Fun Fact! – Brownlow Medal winning Essendon and Port Adelaide great Gavin Wanganeen’s great, grandfather played for Koonibba.
Known as the Koonibba Roosters, the last decade has seen the team dominate the league in which they play, with Grand Final wins in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2017.
The club has been visited, written or spoken about by a host of sports stars and celebrities, with television presenter Shelley Ware writing about the club in her blog and popular TV presenter and actor, Ernie Dingo visiting the club in a segment of ‘Going Places with Ernie Dingo’.
Former Adelaide Crows star and Carlton star Eddie Betts has also visited the club, having personal connections to it.