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iLAuNCH to blaze a trail in space research

people smiling with lego rocket in hand
University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, iLAuNCH Executive Director Darin Lovett and Assistant Minister for Education, Senator Anthony Chisholm

Collaboration in space research will boost Australia’s position in the global space economy, drive innovation and develop a new generation of space leaders.

This is the mission for the new Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Trailblazer at the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ), in partnership with the Australian National University, the University of South Australia, and industry.

Officially launching iLAuNCH, Assistant Minister for Education, Senator Anthony Chisholm said that the ambitious Trailblazer Universities Program is transforming world-class Australian research into practical breakthroughs.

“iLAuNCH is harnessing Australia’s natural and competitive strengths to diversify and transform Australia’s economy, workforce and industry, while creating more sustainable, high-value jobs for all Australians,” Assistant Minister Chisholm said.

“Industry plays a pivotal role in propelling university innovation to the forefront of Australia’s economic recovery, and there is great opportunity for small and medium enterprises, as well as the large organisation, to collaborate with Australia’s outstanding researchers.

“I look forward to working with the university and industry partners to ensure the success of this program.”

University of Southern Queensland Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said the program would build Australia’s sovereign space capability by addressing critical gaps and accelerating the development of a space manufacturing sector.

“Today we are officially establishing the iLAuNCH Trailblazer at the University of Southern Queensland’s Toowoomba campus,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“Here we have critical infrastructure in space research, including the long duration hypersonic tunnel, Mt Kent astronomical observatory, advanced automated composites manufacturing facilities and rocket solid fuel manufacturing lab.

“This is an exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of space research that has a critical role in creating new products, companies, technology, and jobs. To be a world leader in the space industry.

“With world-class research and teams from the University of Southern Queensland, the Australian National University and the University of South Australia, the iLAuNCH Trailblazer is set to accelerate the development of a space launch manufacturing sector.”

iLAuNCH is among the largest space research hubs in Australia. Formed last year through the Federal Government Trailblazer Universities Program, iLAuNCH features three universities, and over 20 industry partners – with more expected.

The $180-million program will invest in space industry research, commercialisation and manufacturing over four years.

iLAuNCH Executive Director Darin Lovett said the trailblazer program takes domestic space collaboration to a new level.

“Australia is primed to launch into a trillion-dollar global space ecosystem,” Mr Lovett said.

“To seize the opportunity, we are focussed on commercialising our world class space technology through collaboration and focussed effort.”

The goal is to deliver billions in economic benefits by 2040 and create a lasting legacy for Australia’s space industry.

University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute Professor Colin Hall said the University was proud to be part of the iLAuNCH consortium.

“This unique initiative represents a real opportunity for Australia to expand and develop our space engineering ecosystem,” Professor Hall said.

Over the next three and a half years, the UniSA team will work with six industry partners across three key projects with a total value of around $20M.

“Through collaboration and innovation, we will demonstrate how space capable technologies can inspire the next generation of space engineers and realise a commercial outcome in this sector.”

The Australian National University’s InSpace Professor Anna Moore said the impact of these partnerships would benefit Australia into the future.

“ANU InSpace is excited to get started with our diverse portfolio of iLAuNCH projects which will position Australian technology and know-how to support global supply chains,” Professor Moore said.

“The impact of this will benefit Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector for generations to come.”

The Trailblazer Universities Program includes the opportunity for participating universities to partner with Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to access specialist equipment and expertise to support the delivery of their projects.

One of these projects is the design, manufacture and deployment of a Mobile Mission Operations Centre to support Australian launch services in remote and regional areas as part of the iLAuNCH Trailblazer.

The first group of iLAuNCH industry and delivery partners include: Amaero Engineering, Aspen Medical, Blast One, Boeing Defence Australia, ClearBox Systems, CSIRO, Leonardo Australia, New Frontier Technologies, Nominal Systems, Northrop Grumman, Rocket Technologies International, Saber Astronautics, SMR Automotive, Southern Launch, Space Machines Company, Spiral Blue, Valley Precise Global.

The Australian Government is building new research capabilities, driving commercialisation outcomes and investing in new industry engagement opportunities through the Department of Education’s Trailblazer Universities Program. Through this federal program, iLAuNCH will receive $50 million of investment over 4 years, alongside a further $130 million from universities, industry partners, and CSIRO. The net economic benefit of the $180 million investment is expected to be $3.6 billion by 2040.