10 May 2023

Professor says Weipa an ideal location for spaceport

| Cape York Weekly
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ROCKET expert Allan Paull says Weipa would be the perfect location for a spaceport if you wanted to build one in North Queensland.

Dr Paull, from the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering at the University of Queensland, said that Weipa ticked all the boxes.

“It’s close to the equator, it has a well established harbour and it isn’t on the Great Barrier Reef,” he said, taking a jab at the proposed Abbot Point site in the process.

“It isn’t that expensive to build a launch site, it usually comes down to whether a government wants it to happen.”

Dr Paull said he had explored Weipa as a potential site when he was working directly in the rocket industry.

“We educate a lot of kids here and they end up overseas because we don’t have the jobs here to keep them,” he said.

“We need a spaceport in northern Australia.”

Dr Paull said there was no real reason for local residents to be concerned about a rocket launch site to be built near Weipa.

“It’s not like you’re launching rockets every day,” he said.

“Rocket Lab in New Zealand manage about one a month and the local impact is pretty low.”

As for rocket failure, that’s a different story.

“The probability of failure is actually pretty high – about 1 in 20,” Dr Paull said.

“That can be problematic, which is why you don’t want a site that’s near the Great Barrier Reef.

“But the probability of a human getting hit is extremely low.

“We did the maths and you’d have to be very unlucky.

“A site near Weipa would be ideal because there’s not a big population nearby.”

Dr Paull also said Australia’s space industry was well poised to take off in the next 20 years.

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