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Prime Minister’s astronomical ambitions for Australia’s Top End

Thomas Morgan and Nathaniel Chambers, June 9, 2022 6:30PM Kids News

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NASA personnel was onsite in the building of the NT’s Arnhem Space Centre to install the launch arm in order to send rockets into space later this month and into July. Picture: Amanda Parkinson media_cameraNASA personnel was onsite in the building of the NT’s Arnhem Space Centre to install the launch arm in order to send rockets into space later this month and into July. Picture: Amanda Parkinson


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Three NASA rockets will lift off from the Northern Territory in the coming weeks – the first time ever the space agency will launch from a commercial facility outside the United States and the first time NASA rockets will leave Australia since 1995.

At a press conference in the NT parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese appeared beside Chief Minister Natasha Fyles and Territory Labor’s federal parliamentarians to announce new details about the suborbital* launches from the new Arnhem Space Centre in remote Northern Australia.

media_cameraThe new Arnhem Space Centre in the NT will be the launch site for three NASA rockets lifting off in June and July. Picture: Abi Fraser

Mr Albanese said that the Top End’s fledgling* space industry would drive innovation* and new jobs in science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM).

The three NASA rockets will be launched between June 26 and July 12, and will study the stars closest to our solar system, interstellar* space and rays of light from distant suns.

The project has the support of traditional owners and operator Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) hoped the centre could one day support up to 50 launches a year.

NASA to launch rockets from remote NT

“This is about not just the rocket launches itself, but it’s about sending a message to younger Australians and indeed, Australians of any age who might be looking at retraining for future careers, of how important science is,” Mr Albanese said.

“We want the next generation to really look at STEM as part of Australia’s future. And that’s why this is an important project.”

media_cameraThe new Arnhem Space Centre is located in the East Arnhem Land township of Nhulunbuy. Picture: ELA

The PM said NASA’s involvement in the launches “should be something of pride for all Australians”.

“We can trace Australia’s celebrated connection to the space industry back to the 1950s,” Mr Albanese said. “As a nation we have to build on that legacy. This project will bring together global and local industry to take Australia’s space sector into a new era.”

PRIME MINISTER media_cameraNT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, pictured Wednesday at the Darwin press conference with Anthony Albanese, said the NT government was committed to diversifying the NT’s economy. Picture: Glenn Campbell

Ms Fyles said the three launches later this month and into July were “an exciting project”.

“We have backed it since its inception*, and it is showing that the Northern Territory is a key part of the future, particularly for investors in this new frontier,” she said.

“The Northern Territory government is committed to developing and diversifying* the Territory economy.”

Around 75 NASA personnel* will be in Australia for the launches.

media_cameraThe Arnhem Space Centre is on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy, on the lands of the Gumatj people.

The Arnhem Space Centre is located on the Dhupuma Plateau near Nhulunbuy, on the lands of the Gumatj people.

Ms Fyles called the rocket launch project a “landmark* occasion” for the Top End.

“NASA is adding capacity and rocketing East Arnhem Land into the global spotlight for investors — this will help our industry grow, create more jobs for locals and more opportunities for businesses,” she said.


  • suborbital: having a flight path that is less than one complete orbit
  • fledgling: emerging, fairly new, at the beginning or early stages
  • innovation: new idea or method, or the use of new ideas and methods
  • interstellar: located, taking place, or travelling between the stars
  • inception: the beginning, the starting point, commencement
  • diversifying: branching out, expanding, including more and different things
  • personnel: employees, staff, workers
  • landmark: important moment or event, a turning point, a high point


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  1. How many rockets will be launched from the NT across June and July?
  2. What year did NASA last launch a rocket from Australia?
  3. How many times has NASA launched rockets from commercial facilities outside the US?
  4. What will the NASA missions investigate?
  5. What is the name of the new space centre, where is it and on whose land?


1. Design a logo
Design a special NASA logo to go on the rockets launched from the Arnhem Space Centre. Your logo should reflect what is special and important about this launch.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Visual Communication Design; Science

2. Extension
Our Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, talked about how important science is. Think about a typical day in your life. How does science help you every day? List as many things as you can think of.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education; Science

Read with Kung Fu punctuation
Pair up with the article between you and stand up to make it easy to demonstrate your Kung Fu punctuation.

Practise reading one sentence at a time. Now read it again, while acting out the punctuation as you read.

Read and act three sentences before swapping with your partner.

Take two turns each.

Now ask your partner to read a sentence out loud while you try and act out the punctuation. Can you keep up? Swap over?

Try acting out two sentences – are you laughing yet?

Extra Reading in space