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Leading space scientists come together to enhance Australia’s space and defence capabilities


A $180 million University of Southern Queensland-led consortium has been launched to advance Australia’s space and defence capabilities, dubbed the Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) program.

The consortium, which is led by the University of Southern Queensland in partnership with the Australian National University, University of South Australia and 21 industry organisations, is expected to identify critical gaps in Australia’s space capabilities and accelerate technology development.

To achieve the ambitious program, Darin Lovett has been selected as executive director of iLAuNCH, and will be supported by space specialist Dr Milica Symul as chief operating officer and aerospace expert Dr Joni Sytsma as chief technology officer.

Lovett began his career as a flight test engineer with the Royal Australian Air Force, and subsequently served as senior manager at Boeing Phantom Works International and chief of strategy for the Executive Agent for Space at the US Department of Defense.


Meanwhile, Dr Symul holds a PhD in physics and has worked for leading space organisations, while Dr Sytsma holds a PhD in aerospace engineering and has worked for the Australian and US defence departments and private sector space organisations.

Dr Rosalind Dubs will lead the advisory board, having held positions on the Space Industry Innovation Council and as chair of the SmartSat CRC.

The consortium is supported by the Commonwealth’s inaugural $362.5 million Trailblazer Universities Program to the tune of $50 million.

It is hoped that the program will help generate some $3.65 billion in economic growth for Australia by propelling the space industry.


“iLAuNCH will help unite Australia’s world-class institutions, organisations, and companies in achieving a common goal — to propel the country’s space industry forward,” Lovett said.

“Australia is on the cusp of creating a sustainable space ecosystem and this program will pave the way for viable exports in a globally competitive market.”

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