USQ prepares to support Queensland space industry lift-off

Stephen Kuper

The University of Southern Queensland has welcomed new impetus from the Queensland government to boost the state’s participation in the growth of the Australian space industry.

The state government’s acceptance of 15 recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry into job creation opportunities in Queensland arising from the establishment of an Australian space industry should help Queensland take the essential enabling steps in building a multibillion-dollar local space industry.

Among the recommendations are calls to develop launch technologies, create new collaborations between universities, business and government, as well as increase the number of young Queenslanders studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) needed for the career opportunities in the new space industry.

Vice-chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said USQ was well placed to play a leading role in the space opportunity with planning well underway with a private sector partner for a static rocket-testing site near Toowoomba.

"USQ is committed to supporting efforts by the Australian and Queensland governments to establish the infrastructure and skills necessary to seize a part of the burgeoning growth in the global space industry," Professor Mackenzie said.

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There are a number of space-related research projects currently operating at USQ, including a collaboration with Gilmour Space Technologies on advanced rocket technology research, testing and STEM initiatives.

The Queensland government announcement comes just days after a number of delegates, including acting Queensland chief scientist, the director of international and national engagement at the Australian Space Agency, and the deputy director-general of the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, toured USQ’s Mount Kent Observatory.

"Our proposed static rocket testing site will catalyse local innovation and attract researchers to Queensland, building on the international interest generated by other unique facilities such as our Mount Kent Observatory," Professor Mackenzie explained. 

The site, located outside Toowoomba, hosts remote-access telescopes for the Shared Skies Partnership with the University of Louisville (USA) and MINERVA-Australis – the only southern hemisphere observing facility dedicated to NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.

Professor Mackenzie added, "Queensland has many advantages to offer the space industry and USQ ranks among a number of home grown institutions very well-placed to become a key driver in this field."

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