Yet another rocket didn’t make it off the ground at Whalers Way today

(Post by EW Member Karen Lettice.)
Yet another rocket didn’t make it off the ground at Whalers Way today (15/12/22). At least this time there was no fire involved as there was in Sept 2021. Today’s problem was a fuel leak.
Unsuitable weather has on occasion hampered launch attempts to date, but by far the biggest obstacle encountered, has been the ‘experimental’ nature of the rockets themselves. Manufactured by inexperienced start-up companies, the rockets deployed at WW are unproven, unreliable and unpredictable.
Herein lies the huge risk that hangs over Whalers Way. The consequences of one serious launch failure, blasting burning debris and fuel over the area, could be immediately catastrophic to fauna and flora, and to human lives.
Southern Launch’s CEO Lloyd Damp, considers Australians to be too risk averse. “Here in Australia, we almost have zero tolerance for risk”, he says.” “Compare that to America, or Europe, or China, where if a rocket blows up in mid-flight, it’s almost celebrated.”
So, here’s the thing. Is it ‘risky’ to choose to launch experimental rockets, prone to malfunctioning, in an environmentally sensitive conservation area, home to 48 threatened/ endangered species, or is it just plain ‘reckless’?
“It’s a matter of when, not if, a rocket will fail,” says Lloyd Damp, CEO of Southern Launch.
To most responsible individuals, risk-taking not balanced by commonsense, equates to recklessness. Who in their right mind would think a wildlife sanctuary, the appropriate location for a noisy, polluting, explosive industry?
That Southern Launch should have chosen such an inappropriate site for its hazardous operations, does not reflect well on the company’s integrity in regard to environmental responsibility.
Further, by conducting its operations out of Whalers Way in the manner it is, Southern Launch’s sense of social responsibility is also open to question. The following information that can be verified in the public domain, is offered for you to draw your own conclusions.
Southern Launch is technically in breach of both its launching licence and planning consent. It arguably does not have a valid licence for launching any space rocket from WWOLC, let alone experimental rockets.
The licence issued in June of 2022 was for ‘test launches’ at a ‘launch facility’ at Whalers Way. Whalers Way does not qualify as a “launch facility” under the 2018 or 2019 Space (Launches and Returns) Acts. It doesn’t meet either the “specifically designed” facility requirements, or the criteria to ensure “safe and effective” conduct as prescribed by law.
Additionally, the licence that was issued, was for ‘test launches’. Test launches are not the same as launches to test ‘experimental’, formerly ‘untested’ rockets. The nature of the rockets that have been deployed at WW are ‘experimental’ (ie unproven) and are therefore more liable to malfunction.This dramatically increases the chance of explosions, bushfires and irreversible environmental damage.
In relation to the above, the planning authority, SCAP, granted an erroneous planning consent based on information supplied by Southern Launch in its application report. Nowhere in that document was it stated that the site would be used for the test- launching of ‘experimental’ rockets, or for launching test payloads.
A parliamentary motion introduced by Tammy Franks Greens MLC, calling for an inquiry into the decision making process and impact of approval on WWOLC, is currently under consideration by the SA Legislative Council.
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