Privately-owned rocket testing comes to Australia


Australia is hosting its first international rocket testing program through a partnership with UK company Raptor Aerospace, Queensland-based launch provider Black Sky Aerospace.

The test program at Beyond the Blue Aerospace’s sub-orbital launch facility just outside of Goondiwindi in Queensland’s outback is planned to start later this month. The Raptor Aerospace team’s campaign to test and qualify their own launch vehicles and systems will be Australia’s first privately operated, international rocket motor test and sounding rocket launch campaign.

Land-based rocket testing, where test engineers want to recover the launch systems for analysis, is less difficult in the remote parts of Australia than in the UK because of the lower population density and less busy airspace. Beyond the Blue Aerospace is also able to provide a large launch and recovery area.

The project follows the UK Space Agency and Australian Space Agency recent announcement of a partnership designed to open up new trade opportunities.

Ben Jarvis, CEO of Raptor Aerospace, said, “Whilst the development of the new space-ports in the UK will ultimately allow some of our commercial activity to occur on home soil, many customer payloads and test flights, where recovery of sensitive electronics after flight is critical, will need a land range to fly from.

“Black Sky Aerospace have offered us access to a suitable inland site and invaluable expertise that we hope will lead to an ongoing commercial collaboration that forwards space access in both countries.”

Blake Nikolic, CEO and founder of Black Sky Aerospace, said, “Australia is playing an increasing role in the world’s space ambitions and we are playing a significant role in enabling access to an efficient, cost-effective service”

“This campaign with Raptor Aerospace will drive additional export opportunities of Black Sky Aerospace’s technology, whilst solidifying Australia’s position as the place to conduct research and testing, before undertaking expensive orbital launches,” continued Nikolic.

Raptor Aerospace provides practical training, simulation and small launch vehicles to the space industry and are developing a launch service for small payloads it intends to offer next year. Black Sky Aerospace is an aerospace manufacturer and launch provider based in Australia. Beyond the Blue Aerospace is a not-for-profit organization created to facilitate test rocket launches.

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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