3 mins read 19 May 2022

USQ awarded $50 million trailblazer grant for space manufacturing Hub

The University of Southern Queensland has been awarded a $50 million grant through the Federal Government’s Trailblazer Universities Program to develop a space manufacturing hub with ANU, UniSA, and industry partners. 

The University of Southern Queensland has space manufacturing expertise in hypersonic propulsion systems, advanced materials, and astrophysics. Credit: Provided by USQ.

University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has won a $50 million federal grant as part of the Federal Government’s Trailblazer Universities initiative giving the go-ahead for the ‘Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications, and Hypersonics’ Hub, aka, the iLaunch Hub.

In a partnership between USQ, the Australian National University (ANU), and the University of South Australia (UniSA), along with 23 industry partners, the iLaunch Hub will help to commercialise a range of research, manufacturing and infrastructure for the Australian Space Industry. 

USQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Geraldine Mackenzie said that the hub would lead to Australian breakthroughs in an area of critical national manufacturing priority.

 “The University of Southern Queensland is already a leader in space manufacturing with expertise in hypersonic propulsion systems, advanced materials, and astrophysics.

“iLaunch Hub will improve Australia’s skills in the space sector, providing new jobs and boosting the economy, and also help ensure our country’s space expertise grows well into the future.”

The new hub is expected to generate over $3.65 billion in economic benefits across the region and Australia.

UniSA Industry Associate Professor Colin Hall will lead the South Australian node, working with five industry partners on three core projects, valued at $20 million over four years.

“This project will support university staff to commercialise their research and strengthen collaborations with industry, both of which are necessary to build a sovereign space capability in Australia,” Assoc. Prof. Hall said.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for us, and our industry partners, to commercialise technology to grow Australia’s space manufacturing capability.  

“Together with USQ and ANU, we will cement Australia’s reputation as a major player on the global space stage.”

University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences Executive Director Professor Peter Schubel said the hub would support industry to address sovereign space manufacturing.

“Our industry partners have identified $3.65 billion in economic benefits associated with the core iLaunch commercialisation projects, which will accelerate Australian IP to market, and the development of a Space Engineering Degree that will create a pipeline of skilled, job-ready engineers into this exciting high-value, high-growth sector,” said Professor Schubel.

"The program will provide critical research, equipment, and infrastructure in support of rocket manufacturing, rocket launch, and in-space hardware such as satellites, communications, and sensors," said Professor Schubel. 

University of Southern Queensland Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences Professor Peter Schubel. Credit: Provided by USQ.

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications, and Regional Education, Bridget McKenzie, said that the iLaunch project would have a significant impact on regional areas right across the country.

“The new University of Southern Queensland Trailblazer will turbocharge our growing space industry, helping us to achieve our goal of having 20,000 space sector jobs by 2030,” Senator McKenzie said.

“This Trailblazer funding is part of our plan for a stronger, sustainable, and more prosperous regional Australia and means more jobs right here in Queensland, a stronger research and development sector, and a stronger economy.” 

The Trailblazer Universities Program

The Trailblazer Universities Program was an initiative announced in November 2021 by the Federal Government to invest $242.7 million towards identified prioritised areas to boost research and development with industry partners to achieve commercial outcomes. The funding commitment is from 2021/22 through to 2025/26.