• The Austral Launch Vehicle during its first successful use. Photo by J.R.Llobet.The Austral Launch Vehicle during its first successful use. Photo by J.R.Llobet.

The University of Queensland technology launching Australia into space

A project at the University of Queensland – the Austral Launch Vehicle (ALV) – has taken its first successful flight towards space.

The ALV is a small plane designed to launch small satellites into space and return to the base after use.

UQ Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion, Professor Michael Smart said current single-use launch systems for small satellites made it incredibly expensive to send satellites into orbit: "It is a rocket booster in the usual sense, but instead of falling into the ocean once it has done its job, it deploys wings and a propeller motor, so it can safely return to base."

The team at UQ has been working in partnership with Brisbane-based start up companies Heliaq Advanced Engineering, and Australian Droid and Robot to design the rocket boosted plane. Professor Smart explained: "The combination of the ALV and a UQ scramjet would mean almost 85 per cent of a satellite launch system would be reusable. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia to become a part of the space sector."

It is thought that there will be as many as 400 new satellites launched during 2016, and the team at UQ could be the people that companies will turn to.  You can watch a video of the launch on the UQ website here.

You can find out more about the University of Queensland on their profile here.

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