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University of Southern Queensland a Trailblazer in space research

The University of Southern Queensland has been named one of Australia’s Trailblazer universities to accelerate growth in space manufacturing and lead a new research hub of national priority.

The University of Southern Queensland has been announced as a successful recipient under the Australian Government’s $362 million Trailblazer Universities initiative, giving the greenlight to the University of Southern Queensland-led ‘Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub’.

In a giant step for the Australian space sector, the University of Southern Queensland will lead Australia’s effort to boost commercialisation and national capability in the space sector thanks to $50 million in funding from the Federal Government’s inaugural Trailblazer Universities Program.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said along with university partners the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of South Australia (UniSA), and industry partners, the University would lead Australian breakthroughs in an area of critical national manufacturing priority.

“The University of Southern Queensland is already a leader in space manufacturing with expertise in hypersonic propulsion systems, advanced materials, and astrophysics,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“iLAuNCH Hub will improve Australia’s skills in the space sector, providing new jobs and boosting the economy, and also help ensure our country’s space expertise grows well into the future.”

It is anticipated that the new hub will generate over $3.65 billion in economic benefits across the region and Australia.

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education (former) Bridget McKenzie said the project would have a significant impact on regional areas right across the country.

“The new University of Southern Queensland Trailblazer will turbocharge our growing space industry, helping us to achieve our goal of having 20,000 space sector jobs by 2030,” Senator McKenzie said.

“This Trailblazer funding is part of our plan for a stronger, sustainable and more prosperous regional Australia and means more jobs right here in Queensland, a stronger research and development sector and a stronger economy.”

University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences Executive Director Professor Peter Schubel said the hub would support industry to address sovereign space manufacturing.

“iLaunch will operate as a national space commercialisation Hub with three nodes – the University of Southern Queensland, ANU in the Australian Capital Territory, and UniSA in South Australia,” Professor Schubel said.

“Our industry partners have identified $3.65 billion in economic benefits associated with the core iLaunch commercialisation projects, which will accelerate Australian IP to market, and the development of a Space Engineering Degree that will create a pipeline of skilled, job ready engineers into this exciting high-value, high-growth sector.

“The program will provide critical research, equipment and infrastructure in support of rocket manufacturing, rocket launch and in-space hardware such as satellites, communications and sensors.”

The Hub will support its industry partners to develop a space manufacturing precinct in regional Queensland for rocket manufacturing and associated supply chain development, servicing civil and defence requirements.

Director of the ANU Institute for Space Professor Anna Moore said Australia had breathtaking capability to offer the global space industry.

“Key to success is working with each other across states to offer our best efforts in a focused and purposeful way,” Professor Moore said.

“That’s what makes this project so special. That’s what it takes to create sovereign capability and to educate our next generation of Australians who will be excited and proud to grow our space industry.”

UniSA Industry Associate Professor Colin Hall will lead the UniSA team, developing components, antennas and optics for small satellites and creating optical coatings for high-powered lasers.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us, and our industry partners, to commercialise technology to grow Australia’s space manufacturing capability. Together with the University of Southern Queensland and ANU we will cement Australia’s reputation as a major player on the global space stage,” Professor Hall said.

The University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences is renowned for its research to deliver cutting-edge technologies, industry solutions and knowledge at the forefront of discovery, with world-class facilities including the Mount Kent Observatory in a dark-sky site, just outside of Toowoomba.

a hypersonic wind tunnel
The University of Southern Queensland is already a leader in space manufacturing with expertise in hypersonic propulsion systems, advanced materials, and astrophysics.