Rocket launch takes UQ research to new heights

21 Nov 2018

Advanced materials developed and manufactured at The University of Queensland were launched to the lower limits of the earth’s atmosphere today in Australia’s first commercial rocket launch.

UQ researchers created a ceramic matrix composite panel that forms part of the rocket’s body for launch provider Black Sky Aerospace (BSA).

PhD student Christian Kudisonga said the launch demonstrated the University’s ability to create technology and materials for Queensland’s emerging space industry. 

“This is a fantastic and unique opportunity to see the application of what we are working on in the lab in a real world scenario,” he said.

“Knowing that I produced a part for an actual flying rocket is something special.”

The panel is capable of withstanding more than 2000°C and is equipped with an integrated high temperature sensor.

“The part we’ve provided demonstrates a number of manufacturing processes that I have researched and developed as part of my PhD,” Mr Kudisonga said.

EAIT Rocket Launch “We’re hoping to get some useful data back from the launch and, in the long run, build on our skills to make more mission-critical parts.”

Mr Kudisonga’s supervisor Dr Michael Heitzmann said he hoped the launch would open the doors to more commercial application opportunities.

“I hope today’s flight marks the start of more frequent launches that provide us with the opportunity to build materials in increasingly demanding applications,” he said.

“UQ has a very long and successful history in the development of aerospace technologies through the UQ Centre of Hypersonics and the Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing.

“The recently formed start-up company Hypersonix is starting to commercialise UQ’s hypersonic research.

“Low cost, commercial launches at our doorstep will give us further opportunities to grow and strengthen our position as leaders in this field.”

The launch took place on a private property one hour north-west of Goondiwindi.

Image above left: the panel created by UQ.