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Black Sky to develop and fire rockets on new site

Black Sky Aerospace has received approval to develop a new facility where it can both manufacture and test-fire rockets at a single location.

The business hopes the site, in southern Queensland, will “dramatically” speed up the time taken for its research and production processes.

The 2,500-acre property is currently used mainly for agriculture, but work will now begin on developing the infrastructure needed to transform it into a rocket fuel facility.

When complete, it will be used to undertake industry activities, research and technology industry, research and development flights, motor tests and rocketry events.


“This approval allows us to develop complementary capabilities on a single site so we can manufacture and test fire rockets without having to travel,” said Black Sky chief executive officer Blake Nikolic.

“That means we will produce the solid rocket propellant and the rocket motors in one location, then take them out and test them without having to go long distances for every test.

“This will dramatically reduce our cycle times for research, development, test, evaluation and qualification, ensuring the highest levels of quality control.

“The Defence Strategic Review again reinforced the need for rapid development of sovereign capabilities. The facilities developed on this site will achieve that for solid rocket propellant, ammonium perchlorate, rocket motors and a host of other space and defence products.”


It comes shortly after Black Sky Aerospace hit a significant milestone when it successfully produced ammonium perchlorate, a key chemical for rocket fuel.

The business believes it’s the first in Australia to produce the explosive agent, which is used as a component of fireworks, flash powders, explosives, and smokeless jet. It makes up about 70 per cent of most rocket fuel.

Salt of perchloric acid and ammonia is a powerful oxidiser used extensively in rocket boosters to propel NASA space launch systems, according to the agency.

When ignited, oxygen from ammonium perchlorate combines with aluminium to produce aluminium oxide, aluminium chloride, water vapour, nitrogen gas, and significant amounts of energy. That energy and heat causes water vapor and nitrogen to rapidly expand, which can be funnelled outward to create thrust for rockets.

Black Sky and the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre have previously co-invested $1 million in 2021 to prove Australian production of ammonium perchlorate.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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