NASA has successfully launched a rocket from Australia’s Northern Territory, the organization’s first-ever launch outside its origin, the United States.
The rocket blasted off at midnight local time Monday from the Arnhem Space Center on the Dhupuma Plateau, near the township of Nhulunby, as per Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA), the owner, developer, and operator of the center.
This rocket is predicted to travel more than 300 kilometers into space on its mission to analyze the Alpha Centauri A and B constellations, the nearest star to the Earth.
Alpha Centauri has a special meaning for Australia. According to Reuters, it is visible from the Southern Hemisphere. It is one of the “pointers” to the Southern Cross constellation visible on the Country’s flag.
It was a historic day for Australia. It was the first commercial space launch in the Country. Furthermore, it was one of the first of the three launches. The other two launches have been scheduled for July 4 and July 12. These will perform the astrophysical studies that can only be done from the Southern Hemisphere, reports NASA.
Australian National University astrophysicist Brad Tucker, who was on-site to watch the launch, informed us that wind and rain beforehand had resulted in some nervousness about its direction. Finally, however, excitement broke out as the rocket took off after a delay of more than an hour.
Tucker said that the suborbital missions were focused on better understanding the star systems and whether any habitable planets existed there.
The agency said that the mission will study the evolution of galaxies by measuring x-rays offered by hot gases that fill space between stars.