Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) was founded in 2015 and has successfully completed Australia’s first ever commercial space launch.

Our mission is to be the pre-eminent multi-user commercial Space Launch company. We provide a comprehensive suite of value-added services including: 

  • supporting the mission and launch planning;
  • regulatory licencing and compliance assistance;
  • launch management and cooperation
  • launch preparation and execution;
  • recovery of vehicles/stages;
  • payload management; and
  • fuel storage and preparation.

We anticipate, manage and reduce client risk and associated administration and logistics burden for all operational launch scenarios. Due to our low cost base, equatorial launch benefits, scale and flexible access to space, ELA provides a world class value proposition.

ELA has been contracted by NASA to launch three rockets to space from our site in June and July 2022. This is NASA’s first space Launch from a commercial Launch Site and Australia’s first ever commercial Space Launch.

The team at Equatorial Launch Australia are trusted leaders in the development and space industry in Australia and the United States. Our experience spans across aerospace, commercial enterprise, regulation, asset development, and complex project management along with space strategy and systems engineering and has been successfully demonstrated at major companies for decades.

Executive Management

Michael Jones

Executive Chairman and Group CEO

Michael has over 35 years’ experience in space, aviation, corporate finance and general industrial management. An experimental Test Pilot turned successful entrepreneur and business executive as evidenced by roles as the Founder and CEO of the Aerospace Group (later acquired by and renamed Raytheon Australia); Founder and CEO of Regional Express Airlines (REX), and recently as the Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer for Virgin Australia. Michael is a graduate of the Royal Military College, he has a Bachelor of Arts/Economics from UNSW, Grad Dip in App Investment from FINSIA, is a distinguished graduate of the Empire Test Pilots’ School UK and was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Ben Tett

General Manager Operations and Launch

Ben has 15+ years experience as an executive and engineer spanning areas such as Aerospace Engineering, Project and Program management, PMO and Portfolio Management, Innovation, Strategy Development and Business Transformation. Over the last 10 years, Ben has worked in commercial aviation at Virgin Australia where he established a strong brand and reputation for a being a people-focused leader and for delivering complex programs. Ben has a Bachelor of Engineering from the University of Queensland.
Recently Ben is a finalist in the 2022 Australian Space Awards as a “Rising Star” Executive of the year

Russell Shaw

General Manager Finance and Commercial

Russell has nearly 20 years of experience at the highest level of commercial and finance industries in firms such as PwC, Macquarie Bank and Virgin Australia. Most recently the GM of Revenue management, Network and Alliances at Virgin Australia where he was responsible for the airline's revenue, pricing, and commercial approach to market. Russell is a Chartered Account and Chartered Financial Analyst with Bachelors and Post graduate degrees from the University of Cape Town.

Pax Barkla

General Manager Arnhem Space Centre & Engineering

Pax is a proven executive with over 20 years of experience across leadership, operational and project delivery roles. He has successfully led multi-disciplinary teams to safely deliver projects in challenging conditions across Australia.
His recent role as COO at Strike Energy was the culmination of a successful seven-year period at the company, where he built organisational capacity across the business and led the delivery of critical projects from planning and approvals through to execution and operations. Previous experience has included project and leadership roles at Santos, highlighted by leading critical flood recovery and infrastructure projects and receiving the CEO Technical Excellence Award for Innovation. Pax has also worked in consulting as a technical and project lead and has Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Adelaide.

ELA Board

Michael Jones

Executive Chairman and Group CEO

Michael has over 35 years’ experience in space, aviation, corporate finance and general industrial management. An experimental Test Pilot turned successful entrepreneur and business executive as evidenced by roles as the Founder and CEO of the Aerospace Group (later acquired by and renamed Raytheon Australia); Founder and CEO of Regional Express Airlines (REX), and recently as the Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer for Virgin Australia. Michael is a graduate of the Royal Military College, he has a Bachelor of Arts/Economics from UNSW, Grad Dip in App Investment from FINSIA, is a distinguished graduate of the Empire Test Pilots’ School UK and was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Dr Andrew Walker

Non-Executive Director

Dr. Andrew Walker is Chairman, CEO & Founder of AMI Expeditionary Healthcare. Dr. Walker Co-Founded Aspen Medical. In 2016 Dr. Walker was Ernst & Young’s “Australian Entrepreneur of the Year,” and has been twice inducted into the EY Entrepreneur Global Hall of Fame. Prior to going into business, Dr. Walker served as an officer with the Australian Army. He has graduate and postgraduate qualifications in Medicine and Medical Science (Hons) from Newcastle University (with scholarships to both Oxford and Harvard) and has an MBA from Melbourne Business School. Dr. Walker has founded two Charities, the latest being the Insight Health Foundation which focuses on health issues in indigenous communities.
In addition, Dr. Walker has founded 16 companies and served on numerous Company Boards, both listed and private.

Lynn McDonald

Non-Executive Director

Lynn is an expatriate American who is currently the Microsoft Lead for Azure Space Asia Pacific. Lynn has 26 years of Space expertise in the US Air Force and Industry. Lynn has had a distinguished career leading large operational organizations with complex missions, driving organizational growth, and advancing cutting-edge space and intelligence technologies. Lynn started her own space consulting business in 2019 after key career positions in space management for the US DoD and CIA. Lynn has also filled and executed positions in Space safety, Operations , Range management and Missile engineering. Lynn Has an MBA from Baker College and a Masters from US Air Command and Staff College and also from US Naval War College.

David Wills

Non-Executive Director

David has 35 years experience in professional services specializing in tax. David became a partner with Arthur Andersen, prior to being appointed to PwC Melbourne to lead its Tax & Legal business. In 2017 he was appointed as Managing Partner of PwC's worldwide private and family business sector. David has an Executive MBA from Melbourne Business School together with a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Sydney. David was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW and was an affiliate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.