NASA will launch the first rocket from a commercial port in another country. Will it find other worlds?
Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 26 June 2022, at 06:40 am Los Angeles time
NASA will launch a rocket from the remote wilds of northern Australia on Sunday night, the first commercial space launch in Australia and the agency's first launch on a commercial spaceport. The suborbital rocket will be visible for a short time a few seconds after launch, scheduled for 10:44 p.m. local time, and will travel 300 kilometers in space.
Australia's dry landscape and proximity to the equator provide optimal conditions for space launches, said astrophysicist Brad Tucker of the Australian National University. "You can't find many places closer to the equator than Arnhem, which is 12 degrees away. In particular, you can't find places near the equator with dry and stable air. Florida, where Cape Canaveral is located, is a kind of swamp," he said, referring to NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
NASA said the three planned launches at the Arnhem Space Center in June and July will help research how the light of a star can influence a planet's habitability. Sunday's mission will carry detectors to measure the X-rays produced by the hot gases that fill the space between the stars.
The information gathered will help study how they influence the evolution of galaxies, NASA said in a statement.
"The main goal is to see if there are potential Earth-like planets around the star Alpha Centauri," he said, adding that scientists have been waiting for a decade to launch a rocket from the southern hemisphere. It will be visible for 10-50 seconds. NASA is the first client for the commercial spaceport operated by Equatorial Launch Australia, and 70 NASA employees traveled to Australia for the three missions.