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

 

Things are looking up for researchers at The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia.

A team of investigators moved one step closer to sending small satellites into space via a reusable launch system.

Start small

It’s called the Austral Launch Vehicle (ALV).

On December 23, ALV underwent its first successful test, a craft designed to return to its base after lofting a satellite into space.

The UQ team envisions a combination of ALV and a scramjet for satellite launchings – making possible nearly 85 per cent of a satellite launch system becoming reusable.

Cutting launch costs

UQ Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion is Michael Smart said that current single-use launch systems for small satellites make it incredibly expensive to send satellites into orbit.

“Working in partnership with Brisbane-based start-up companies — Heliaq Advanced Engineering and Australian Droid and Robot — we’ve designed a rocket system that can be re-used,” Professor Smart said in a UQ press statement.

International market

The launch of the ALV has the researchers eyeing the international market, one that is estimated to see a projected demand for 400 satellites in 2016.

Smart is bullish on the future and use of the ALV concept.

“I think there is real potential for Australia to become the ‘go-to’ country for small satellite launches, and I see this as playing a vital role in Australia’s innovation revolution,” Smart said.

For a Vimeo view of the flight, go to:

https://vimeo.com/149925285

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