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Re-usable vehicle puts USQ on pace for space launch in two years


The University of Southern Queensland has entered the space race alongside Brisbane aerospace company Hypersonix Launch Systems.

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The goal of the combination of Hypersonix and USQ was the creation of a re-usable hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle, Delta Velos, which was being engineered to reach speeds of Mach 12 and land on a normal runway.

The expectation was that the first launch could take place in two years.

The role of the university will be in the testing of high temperature composite materials needed for the launch.

USQ’s Centre for Future Materials director Professor Peter Schubel said the launch vehicle was a technology demonstrator for key aspects of a re-usable small satellite launch system.

“We are the first university to sign an agreement with Hypersonix Launch System to support their journey towards their first launch approximately two years from now,” Schubel said. 

“This project will involve high temperature composites manufacturing which is an area of expertise for our team. ‘’

He said the Hypersonix technology requires advanced composite materials and the university’s team would working with the company in testing the most suitable materials for their needs.” 

The goal is to investigate materials for their high temperature resistance and long durability, access potential for utilising them for re-using launch vehicles and engines.

Hypersonix managing director David Waterhouse said the agreement was ideal given the university’s extensive testing facilities. 

“They offer a great range of testing including materials characterisation, polymer analysis, mechanical testing and large-scale structural testing; including motor performance testing up to 250kN (kilonewton) thrust,”  Waterhouse said. 

“This is exactly what we were looking for in our current building phase.” 

Hypersonix co-founder Michael Smart said the company was “extremely lucky to have the support of a university that has extensive expertise in the materials we require”. 

“It’s also just a stone’s throw away from our Brisbane office.”

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