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Wednesday, 8 December 1965

Mr FAIRHALL (PATERSON, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Supply) - For some time the Department of Supply has been carrying on under a joint agreement with the United Kingdom experiments in what are known as re-entry physics to judge the technical phenomena that occur when a space vehicle re-enters the earth's atmosphere. These experiments have been conducted with the Black Knight rocket. They have now reached a point at which it would perhaps be desirable to have a more powerful rocket that would give greater height and therefore greater speed of re-entry. For some time there have been in progress negotiations for a tripartite arrangement between the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of America. An agreement has not yet been finalised, but if it should be it would provide for the use of the Redstone rocket, which would be supplied by the United States. It is true that the Redstone rocket is obsolete for orbital flight, for which it was once used, and as an intercontinental ballistic missile, for which use it was designed. But in terms of the kind of experiment that we wish to undertake at Woomera it is not obsolete. There will be no safety problem since the rocket is not to be used for horizontal flight but will be used only for vertical flight for which, apart from any other considerations, it is completely safe. Furthermore, the safety precautions at the Woomera rocket range are very strict indeed. The honorable member may rest assured that if the projected agreement is arranged the programme will be carried through with safety and I am sure that it will be completed with satisfaction.

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