Delivering the spaceport of the future in the NT

Friday, 09 February, 2024

Delivering the spaceport of the future in the NT

Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) has revealed completed designs for its Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) buildings — assembly, integration and testing facilities for each of up to seven rocket launch companies to be based at the Arnhem Space Centre (ASC). The company says the purpose-built buildings incorporate advanced space mission-specific features providing launch vehicle companies and satellite payload manufacturers with cutting-edge facilities to ensure their mission success.

The announcement comes on the back of the release of ELA’s ‘game changer’ ASCALP launch pad designs in December 2023. The delivery of the HIF designs completes the company’s designs for its ‘Space Launch Complex’ (SLC) — a designated area of the spaceport at which each resident launcher will locate for all preparatory work prior to and including lift-off — and comprises up to two launch pads and one HIF building for each launch company.

“The public release of our completed HIF designs at the Arnhem Space Centre is another major milestone for ELA and we are incredibly excited to be able to share these designs with our current and future customers and with the wider space industry,” said Michael Jones, Executive Chairman and Group CEO, Equatorial Launch Australia. “We are confident that our facilities and services are, and will be, truly world leading, and we are very much looking forward to offering our customers a best-in-class experience from the moment they sign with ELA.

“Our approach from day one was to stand in the shoes of our clients and look at everything they need to have a successful launch campaign from the ASC.

“The SLC concept and the HIF design is far more detailed and complex than first meets the eye and will set the standard for launch operations,” he added. “The innovative designs were born from extensive and comprehensive international research on current and past spaceport service offerings and deep discussions with customers on their current and future launch needs, while also considering the needs of regulators, commercial partners and us as the spaceport operator.

“An example of this is our high clearance ISO 8 cleanroom which has an eight-metre-high ceiling and eight-metre-high sliding doors for vertical payload integration.”

Designed for modularity and flexibility, the high-specification standard HIF is designed to meet and exceed the requirements of most launch vehicle providers.

External render image of the Horizontal Integration Facility buildings at the Arnhem Space Centre.

External render image of the Horizontal Integration Facility buildings at the Arnhem Space Centre.

Key features of each HIF include:

  • A large 20 mx 40 m rocket assembly area with static discharge points, in-floor pneumatic and electrical power for assembly, integration and testing of the launch vehicles.
  • A high clearance ISO 8 cleanroom with 8 m-high ceiling and sliding door and ceiling for vertical payload integration. The cleanroom doubles as payload workshop and is fully fitted for multiple payload preparation and integration.
  • A 20,000 kg full-space overhead gantry crane with a height clearance under the hook of 9 m and a second 2-tonne-capacity hook for payload movement.
  • An indoor and enclosed workshop space to undertake minor repair, prototyping and fabrication work.
  • A multi-port wall membrane for direct access to and use of launch pad equipment like container-mounted power, umbilical and other support systems.
  • An administrative and personnel area that offers office space, amenities and storerooms.
  • Large 6 x 8 m clearance roller doors at each end of the building accommodating rockets mounted on the ASC Rocket Trolley with strongback/rail attached. The buildings also have air lock dust prevention entrances at each end.
  • The buildings incorporate substantive insulation and HVAC climate control for the harsh NT environment. Similarly, the building is fully cyclone rated and environmentally friendly.
  • Each SLC and HIF will have advanced security measures including day/night camera, movement sensors and digital access control and recording.

“It’s our aim to be the spaceport partner of choice where we can work with our customers to give them the absolute best chance of repeated successful missions,” Jones said.

Top image credit: Equatorial Launch Australia.

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