Image credit UQ
Researchers at The University of Queensland Centre for Hypersonics, planning a three-stage transformational space project called SPARTAN, designed to deliver satellites weighing up to 500kgs into orbit and allowing them to be monitored nationally or internationally.
Chair of Hypersonic Propulsion Professor Michael Smart, said the program aimed to take advantage of dramatic growth in the small satellite market. He added:
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Australia’s hypersonic industry to join the space community.
Currently, there are about 1265 satellites orbiting in space, but the cost to launch a single satellite is astronomical.
Our project aim is to reduce this cost and make it more economically viable for smaller nations and organisations to launch their own satellites and monitor their own space activity through the development of a reusable space launch system.”
Stage one of the system consists of an Austral Launch Vehicle (ALV), a reusable rocket booster that lifts the upper stages of the rocket to scramjet take-over speed of Mach five, before flying back to base using wings and propellers.
The second stage SPARTAN scramjet will fly like a plane up to Mach 10, releasing the final rocket/satellite that stays in space, before it too returns to base.
The combination of the ALV and SPARTAN allows 95 per cent of the system to be reusable.
source The University of Queensland