NASA has launched a space rocket from Australia for the first time in 27 years. It was the first of three launches from Arnhem Space Center.
After a series of rain and wind delays, the rocket soared into the skies on Sunday to study X-rays from the Alpha Centauri A and B galaxies. When the rocket reached its highest point of 350 kilometers, it began to collect data on the galaxies to be captured.
Arnhem Space Center in the Northern Territory is a facility of commercial company Equatorial Launch Australia. It is also the first launch from a commercial launch facility outside the United States in NASA history. It was NASA’s first rocket launch from Australia since 1995.
Australia’s arid landscape and proximity to the equator provide optimal conditions for space launches, said astrophysicist Brad Tucker of the Australian National University, which is 400 meters from the center’s launch pad Arnhem Space.
“There aren’t many places near the equator where you can get dry, stable air. Florida, where Cape Canaveral is, is kind of like a swamp,” Tucker said, making reference to NASA’s famous Kennedy Space Center.
Rockets are used to study heliophysics, the nature and influence of the sun, and planetary scientific phenomena. “The launches will allow us to explore how light from a star can affect a planet’s habitability, among other things,” said NASA’s Nicky Fox.
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