Australia’s first international rocket test announced

Photo: Raptor Aersopace

Queensland based Black Sky Aerospace  will conduct Australia’s first privately operated, international rocket motor test and sounding rocket launch campaign, together with UK company Raptor Aerospace.

“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,” Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) CEO and founder, Blake Nikolic, said.

“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.

BSA is both a manufacturer of aerospace products and a launch provider. The launch will take place in Queensland, at the Beyond the Blue Aerospace sub-orbital launch facility outside of Goondiwindi in mid-February 2020. Prior to blast-off, the Raptor Aerospace team will test and space qualify their own launch vehicles and systems.

Undertaking the test and recovery campaign in Australia is more practical than carrying it out in the UK, according to BSA, as the vast launch and recovery area in Queensland will completely resolve any logistical, population or airspace challenges.

“It is very difficult to embark on a land-based rocket launch campaign in the UK, where the desired outcomes are the recovery of the systems for further analysis. This is due to the dense population and busy European airspace,” a BSA spokesperson said.

Raptor Aerospace is headquartered in Norfolk, UK and provides practical training, simulation and small launch vehicles to the UK and greater European space industry.

“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,” Raptor CEO, Ben Jarvis, said.

“Black Sky Aerospace have been a great partner in our development so far in offering 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.”