South Australian manufacturers set to build high-tech solution for space missions

A pair of South Australian companies are set to join rapidly expanding Australian space industry after winning the contract to build and supply a mobile launch rail – a transportable rocket launcher – for Australian spaceport and space mission provider Southern Launch. 

Ferretti International and Hydroil have been awarded contracts to build the launch rail, which is funded by a grant of $1 million to Southern Launch as a part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars grant program. The launcher will send into space vehicles weighing from 20 kilograms to more than 3,000kg.

The project will create about 10 manufacturing jobs in SA.   

“The construction of a mobile launch rail means that we can use the rail at both our Koonibba and Whalers Way launch complexes,” says Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp. “This offers greater flexibility in the space launch locations available in South Australia and strengthens our position as the space state in Australia.”

The launch rail will be the first foray into space for Ferretti, better known as a pipe fabrication and structural steel company based in Adelaide and Whyalla, SA. “Being involved in a project in a new and emerging industry such as space, in our home state, gives us the confidence to go after similar projects both here and internationally,” says company business development manager Scott Searle.

3d computer image labelled 'southern launch', with person standing next to crane-like object holding rocket
A schematic of Southern Launch’s mobile rail.

Hydraulic engineering specialists Hydroil, who also work across Adelaide and Whyalla, will design and provide a full hydraulic system for launch vehicles; it’s the first space work for them, as well. “The skilled workforce we maintain in South Australia means we have the flexibility and expertise to take on new challenges such as this one for Southern Launch,” says Hydroil general manager Paul Dreimann.

Southern Launch will award additional contracts to SA companies for the transport, assembly and building of other components associated with the launch rail project.

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