New Trailblazer hub to help launch Australian space sector

The Australian National University (ANU) will help propel Australia’s space manufacturing capabilities and sector in a new research hub of national priority.

ANU is a major partner in the University of Southern Queensland’s Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) Hub, announced by Prime Minster Scott Morrison as part of the Australian Government’s $362 million Trailblazer Universities initiative.

The new hub, which also involves the University of South Australia and industry partners, has received $50 million in Federal Government funding and will help commercialise space research and development.

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. It is expected to generate over $3.65 billion in economic benefits across the region and Australia.

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.”

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 18 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.”

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education 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.”

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.

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