- Oct 9, 2009
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In fact, Indonesia's space ambitions for Biak begin well before Elon Musk entered the scene.
Its Aeronautical and Space Agency (Lapan) has had its eye on the island for decades - and in 1980, even bought up a 100 hectare parcel of land. However, due to various challenges, nothing happened on this front.
The site is an important hunting ground with a fishing spot nearby.
But most importantly, it sits around 2km away from the nearest residential area, Saukobye village - and villagers fear they will be forced to relocate.
According to Wikipedia there was an attempt to revive the project in the late 2000s (from 2006 onwards, and possibly into the early 2010s) in co-operation with the Russians. Initially at least this version of the plan included an air launch element. It appears to have been at this time when the 'Biak Spaceport' name was adopted. In 2019, Indonesia began again to try to revive the plan (though focusing back on ground launch this time), leading to this year's (2021) attempt to try to get SpaceX onboard.
Biak Spaceport plan (2006)Since 2006 Indonesia and Russia have been discussing the possibility of launching a satellite from Biak island using Air Launch technology. LAPAN and Russian Federal Space Agency (RKA) have worked on a government-to-government agreement in space cooperation in order to enable such activities in Indonesia. It is planned that Antonov An-124 aircraft will deliver a Polyot space launch vehicle to the new Indonesian spaceport on Biak island (West Papua province). This spaceport is well suited to commercial launches as it sits almost exactly on the equator - any space vehicle launched at the equator has a greater initial velocity imparted to it, making higher velocity or heavier payloads possible. In the spaceport, the launch vehicle will be fuelled and the satellites will be loaded on it. The Antonov An-124 carrying the launch vehicle is to fly at 10 km altitude above the ocean East of Biak island to jettison the launch vehicle  In 2012, discussions resumed. The main stumbling block is Russian concerns over compliance with the terms of the Missile Technology Control Regime; Russia is a co-signatory, Indonesia is not. In 2019, LAPAN officially confirmed plans of building Biak spaceport, when a first flights are expected in 2024.
This thread however will concentrate on the original 20th Century plans and associated background.