Jakarta – Indonesia plans to construct its first spaceport in Biak, Papua, to serve as the location of the country's rocket test launches, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) has confirmed.
"We will build [the spaceport] just like LAPAN's rocket launch site we have in South Garut [West Java]. However, it will be bigger so that it can be used for larger rocket test launches," LAPAN flight and aerospace study center head Robertus Heru Trijahyanto said.
Biak was chosen as the place to build the new spaceport because the regency's vast area was deemed ideal to support LAPAN's plan to do a larger rocket test launch in 2024, he said.
Citing the Karman line – the imaginary line marking where space begins – Heru said the space border was 100 kilometers above Earth's surface. LAPAN, however, plans to test launch a rocket that could go up to 300 km above Earth.
"To reach that height, the rocket must be bigger [in diameter and height]," Heru said, "That's why we need a larger launch site," he added as quoted by kompas.com.
The planned new spaceport would help Indonesia master the technology and operation for satellite launches, LAPAN head Thomas Djamaluddin said separately.
"LAPAN can already make satellites on its own. The next target is to launch a satellite with our own rockets that we made and a spaceport inside Indonesia," Thomas said.
According to Law No. 21/2013 on aerospace, LAPAN is responsible for aerospace equipment launches, constructing and operating a spaceport.
"We expect that the first stage of construction will finish before 2024 to facilitate rocket test launches that we will develop gradually," Thomas said. The spaceport, he said, would be constructed with the help of international partnerships.
A study was carried out to select the location of the would-be spaceport among three candidates, namely Biak, Morotai Island in North Maluku and Enggano Island in Bengkulu.
"Finally, in a 2018 coordination meeting with several ministries, LAPAN chose Biak as the location of the spaceport," Thomas said.
LAPAN prepared 100 hectares of land in North Biak in the 1980s. Biak is considered ideal because it is close to the equator and its eastern coast faces the Pacific Ocean.
He said the rocket launch site in Garut was only for statistical tests and small rocket launches. (ami)