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University of Queensland’s ‘world first’ rocket headed to space

Stephen Kuper

The University of Queensland’s (UQ) ‘Project Asteria could soon be the first university to fly a student-built rocket and scientific payload into space next year.

University of Queensland’s ‘world first’ rocket headed to space
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UQ Space is designing and building ‘Project Asteria’, a rocket that will zoom past the Karman line, 100 kilometres above sea level, reaching speeds greater than Mach 5.

With support from UQ aerospace engineering experts and industry partners including Queensland-based Black Sky Aerospace, the 90-strong student team hopes to set a new world record.

The University of Queensland's space managing director, engineering and arts student Myrthe Snoeks, said the team had been working towards this ambitious goal despite delays caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

"We started developing the rocket in 2019, and we are now planning and undertaking static testing and sub-orbital launch preparations before our official launch next year. The UQ Space team has achieved so much already, having taken out the top position in Australia for competitive university rocket launches in 2019, only one year after establishing the team," Snoeks explained. 

UQ Space will be using the Beyond the Blue Aerospace launch and test facility near Goondiwindi in western Queensland, known as ‘Funny Farm Space’.

This will be one of the first industry collaborations to take advantage of the $3 million commitment from Black Sky Aerospace and Beyond the Blue Aerospace to encourage space ventures from Queensland.

The launch facility is Australia’s only sub-orbital facility permitted to fly through and above controlled airspace and was home to Australia’s first commercial payload rocket launch by Black Sky Aerospace in 2018.

Black Sky Aerospace director Blake Nikolic said there were real benefits to working on Project Asteria.

"Together we are advancing Australia’s space capabilities and showing the world that we’re here and we’re ready. Working with these bright and committed students also helps us as we develop our internship program in this new industry, and provides our future employees with practical knowledge-based learning," Nikolic said. 

UQ Space is one of the largest and most advanced student rocketry teams in Australia. It provides students with hands-on experience, real-world learning and unparalleled exposure to cutting-edge technology.

UQ Space is a student society that aims to provide all its members with hands-on experience in rocketry, aerospace and interdisciplinary engineering. It designs, manufactures and launches high-powered rockets, scientific payloads and all associated space technology, and represents the university at an international level.

As the first university team of its kind in Queensland, UQ Space creates an opportunity for aspiring engineers and scientists to directly apply knowledge obtained during their studies.

The team plans to travel to Goondiwindi in the coming months for their first static test fire of Project Asteria.

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