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To infinity and beyond

Space manufacturing research takes off at the University of Southern Queensland

From repairing jets to testing rockets, the University of Southern Queensland is at the centre of space manufacturing in Australia.

Regional Queensland has become the nation’s version of Cape Canaveral, with the University’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences undertaking a suite of high-tech and innovative research projects on hypersonic propulsion systems, advanced materials, and astrophysics.

Executive Director Professor Peter Schubel said the unique geographical location supported the University’s wide-reaching space research programs and industry interactions.

“The Toowoomba campus is the ideal home for ground-based observations and is the strategic location of our rocket laboratory, static rocket testing facility and long duration hypersonic wind tunnel,” Professor Schubel said.

“Other world-class infrastructure and equipment includes the Mount Kent Astronomical Observatory and one of Australia’s largest dedicated composite materials manufacturing and testing facilities.

“All three University campuses are in close proximity to the strong defence presence in the Toowoomba and Ipswich region, enabling the University to leverage its space expertise to boost Australia’s sovereign defence capability.”

Professor Schubel’s research team is involved at every step of the space manufacturing process, from material development to equipment testing and ultimately industry use.

“Our Advanced Composites Manufacturing Research Team provides novel design, manufacture and testing for aerospace, space, and defence industries,” he said.

“Their expertise in liquid moulding technologies, automated fibre placement, pultrusion and filament winding capabilities with exotic materials allows us to develop structures that are lightweight and financially sustainable.

“In the hypersonics and rocketry field, our team is conducting research for the defence and aerospace industries through domestic and international collaborations in the United Kingdom, Europe, the USA and Australia.”

Current cutting-edge projects include using next-generation composites in aircraft repair (Defence Science and Technology Group), developing faster cycle time in composite aerostructure manufacturing (Boeing Aerostructures Australia), supersonic rocket development, airborne re-entry observations, and much more.

The University of Southern Queensland is currently shortlisted to receive a share in $242.7 million in federal government funding under the Australian Government’s Trailblazer Universities Program.

The bid would see the creation of an Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub, to help Australia keep step with the emerging space manufacturing sector.

Helidon Rocket Test Site, the first privately-owned, static rocket testing site, developed in a partnership between Rocket Technologies International and the University of Southern Queensland.