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iLAuNCH Trailblazer officially launched

USQ’s dual-layer robotic braiding facility (above) is designed for complex tubular composite structures for space; Professor David Buttsworth of USQ (top) designed the university’s hypersonic wind tunnel which is being used extensively in hypersonics research with defence and international partners. Images: University of South Queensland

The Australian government and its academic and industry partners have officially launched the iLAuNCH space Trailblazer at the University of South Queensland in Toowoomba.

The Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Trailblazer has the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ), Australian National University and the University of South Australia as its academic partners, along with an initial 20 industry partners. Their goal is to collaborate to boost Australia’s position in the global space economy, drive innovation and develop a new generation of space leaders.

The Assistant Minister for Education, Senator Anthony Chisholm, said the Department of Education’s ambitious Trailblazer Universities Program is transforming world-class Australian research into practical breakthroughs.

“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,” he said.

“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.

“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,” she said.

“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. It was formed last year through the Federal Government Trailblazer Universities Program. Combining a $50 million grant from Department of Education with $130 millions-worth of contributions in cash and kind from the CSIRO, industry and academia, it will invest in space industry research, commercialisation and manufacturing over four years. The net economic benefit of this $180 million investment is expected to be $3.6 billion by 2040.

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 and Valley Precise Global.

“Australia is primed to launch into a trillion-dollar global space ecosystem,” said iLAuNCH Executive Director Darin Lovett adding that the trailblazer program takes domestic space collaboration to a new level. “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.

“This unique initiative represents a real opportunity for Australia to expand and develop our space engineering ecosystem,” said the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute Professor Colin Hall. 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.

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.

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