One of the world’s oldest living cultures is helping scientists understand galaxies and stars by launching the first of three NASA rockets from the Northern Territory.
The rocket is scheduled to launch from the Arnhem Space Center on the Dhupuma Plateau, near Nhulunbuya, around 10:44 p.m. on Sunday.
It will have an X-ray quantum colorimeter, which will allow scientists at the University of Michigan to accurately measure interstitial X-rays to provide new data on the structure and evolution of space.
About 75 NASA employees are in Arnhem Land at launch, which is the first in Australia in 27 years and the first in history with a commercial spaceport outside the United States.
Yolngu helped build the Arnhem space center on its land, owned by Equatorial Launch Australia.
They are also involved in the upcoming launch, including extracting missile modules when they return to Earth.
Gumatj Corporation Chairman Djawa Yunupingu says the space industry could provide opportunities for the Yolngu people.
“We want our youth to see and take advantage of the jobs and business opportunities that emerge thanks to the growth of the Arnhem Space Center over time,” he said in a statement.
The NSA will launch two more missiles from the ELA complex on July 4 and 12.
They will have a probe to measure ultraviolet light and star structure.
NT Chief Minister Natasha Files says the launch will help attract global space investors to the territory, which will provide jobs.
“The launch of the rocket with Arnhem Land is an incredible milestone for Australia in creating the Northern Territory as a launching pad and an important player in space exploration,” she said in a statement.
“Working with Gumatj people when launching rockets into space combines one of the world’s oldest cultures with some of the most advanced technology.