- Woomera, South Australia
Infobox Australian Place | type = town
name = Woomera
state = sa
caption = Location of Woomera in South Australia (red
est = 1947
location1= Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands
Woomera (coord|31|12|S|136|49|E|region:AU-SA_type:city(300)|display=inline,title) is a town in
South Australia, 488 km/305 mi. north of Adelaide, along the Stuart Highway.
Woomera was named thus after the Aboriginal spear thrower of the same name, in recognition of the place being a launch site in much the same way the woomera launches the spear.
The town of Woomera was established in 1947 to serve the
Woomera Prohibited Area(WPA), a military area 127,000 square km in area (the largest testing area in the world).
The use of the V1 and V2 rockets by
Germanyin World War 2against the United Kingdomresulted in the UK's desire to undertake its own rocket research and development after the war. However, the density of population in the UK made it difficult to establish a test facility in the UK so they approached the Australian government for a site in Australia. The site of the town and the prohibited area were surveyed by Len Beadell. The major criteria for selecting a site were, that it provided a very long testing corridor, and avoided populated areas.
From 1999 to 2003, the nearby Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, held
asylum seekersand refugees.
Rocket and aerospace research
The area has been used since the 1950s for joint
Australia- United Kingdomweapons and aerospacetesting (including testing of nuclear weapons). It was also home to the Nurrungar satellite ground station (coord|31.323809|S|136.776942|E|, closed in 1999 when its activities were moved to Pine Gap) which was thought to be part of the global ECHELONintelligence gathering network.
sounding rockets were launched from Woomera, only two satellites were launched there successfully. These satellites were the British satellite Prospero in 1971 and the Australian WREsat in 1967. Nowadays most pads at Woomera are abandoned, but there are still launches of sounding rockets. The Australian Space Research Instituteconducts several of these launches each year. JAXAused Woomera in 2005-2006 for testing their NEXST-1 supersonic aircraft. [ [http://users.chariot.net.au/~jahill/nextst.htm NEXST-1 Supersonic Airplane project ] ]
In 2006, Woomera was chosen by
Kistler Aerospaceas the first launch site of their K-1 RLV. Difficulties securing the necessary financial backing led Kistler (by then part of Rocketplane Kistler) to miss milestones in their NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Servicesagreement, resulting in cancellation of the agreement by the U.S. space agency in October, 2007 [ [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2007/oct/HQ_07228_COTS_competition.html NASA terminates funded agreement with Rocketplane Kistler] ] . Hence, development of the K-1 has apparently ceased.
Woomera is often used by DSTO (
Defence Science and Technology Organisation), Australia's version of DARPA (USA) or DSTL (UK).
Woomera in the 2000s
The population of "Woomera Village" reached 6000 people at its peak.
Woomera is a very active and vibrant town, and as the Tourism centre is rightfully named, Woomera is an 'Oasis' in the Outback.
Woomeras services and features include; Australia Post (Office), Supermarket, Westpac and BankSA outlets, Fulltime Emergency Services (Fire/Rescue/Hazmat, Ambulance, Police and Hospital), Area School, Marine Centre, Movie Theatre, Swimming Centre, Eldo Hotel, Woomera Travellers Village (Caravan Park), Sports Club (including district Cricket team), RSL&BC, and a number of extracurricular activities and events.
Woomera's attractions include a Missile Park which features missiles and rockets developed at Woomera, and a visitors centre and museum which was formerly a recreation centre for U.S. Air Force personnel working at Nurrungar and their families. Other attractions include a Movie Theatre, bowling alley, Swimming centre, shops and stores, pubs and clubs.
British nuclear tests at Maralinga(part of the Woomera Prohibited Area)
Skylark launch tower
* [http://www.woomera.com.au/ Woomera website]
* [http://homepage.powerup.com.au/~woomera/ Woomera on the Web]
* [http://www.bom.gov.au/weather/sa/woomera/history.shtml History of Woomera Meteorological Office] Bureau of Meteorology
* [http://www.astronautix.com/sites/woomera.htm Woomera Orbital Launch site]
* [http://nla.gov.au/nla.pic-an13179981 Collection of photographs taken by Bob Miller in 1994 and held by Pictures Branch at National Library of Australia, Canberra]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.