The Northern Land Council has hailed the involvement of Traditional Owners in the Northern Territory’s space industry after Australia’s first commercial space launch last month.

Northern Land Council chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the Council had supported Traditional Owners’ involvement in this project “since day one”.

“There were some people who said it would never happen,” he said.

“But we stuck by Traditional Owners and proved the sceptics wrong.”

Senior Gumatj clan leader Djawa Yunupingu, Equatorial Launch Australia executive chairman Michael Jones, and NLC chief executive officer Joe Martin-Jard.

Mr Bush-Blanasi said the NLC played a key role in facilitating negotiations between Equatorial Launch Australia and local contractor Gumatj Corporation, which has undertaken a significant proportion of the works for the construction of the facility.

“I am very proud the Northern Land Council was able to support Gumatj on this new industry for the Northern Territory,” he said.

“Here we have the oldest living culture in the world working side by side with NASA on cutting-edge technologies.

“This shows Traditional Owners mean business.”

NLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard, who was in Gove to witness the first of three NASA launches in this project, said the NLC will always assist Traditional Owners in their economic activities and ensure decisions are made on a free, prior and informed basis.

“Whether it’s mining, carbon farming or sending rockets into space, the NLC is here to support Traditional Owners and make certain there is always free, prior and informed consent,” he said.

“With most land claims now finalised, we are shifting our focus to projects like this. This is about realising the benefits of Aboriginal rights and interests in land.”