Why Woomera

The name is drawn from the village of Woomera, in South Australia. Woomera has a long association with both Australian and multi-national military space operations.

Woomera Test Range

Woomera Test Range, South Australia. Image courtesy of Australia’s Department of Defence. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence

It was the site from which Australia became only the fourth nation to successfully launch a satellite from its own soil when WRESAT was launched in 1967. Woomera served as a British, American, European and Australian centre for space operations throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Woomera is an Australian Aboriginal word in the Dharug language (of the Eora people, traditional custodians of the Sydney area) for a traditional spear-throwing device. The word woomera was chosen as the name of the rocket range because a key purpose of a woomera was to enable much greater distance and accuracy in throwing a spear. In many areas of Australia, woomeras also served as a bowl and were equipped with a cutting implement making them an important tool.

The Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations celebrates the military space heritage of Woomera; acknowledges the dual-use (civilian and military; weapon and human tool) nature of space objects and technologies; and is a metaphor for the use of outer space by States simultaneously as a military force multiplier and driver of civilian advancement.