We have the technology: Australia joins elite club
A cutting-edge space company based just outside Brisbane has created the first Australian-made rocket fuel, making the nation just one of a handful in the world with the capability.
It will open up a potentially lucrative export market and create sovereign capability for defence, space and research applications.
Former army pilot Blake Nikolic's company Black Sky Aerospace has developed and successfully launched the first rocket using the locally manufactured fuel, and is being backed by the Federal Government.
It will create more employment opportunities and play a crucial role and the country's burgeoning space industry.
While the company is headquartered at Jimboomba in Logan, it has operations and launch sites as far afield as western Queensland.
Mr Nikolic said the rocket propellant could have small-scale uses, from ejector seats for fighter aircraft to missile technology and even some orbital rocket launches.
"To date, this product has always been imported. Now it can be manufactured in Australia, which is a big game changer," he said.
"It's a very stable and safe product if handled and stored correctly."
He said after the successful launch and recovery of a rocket on Sunday they had already begun work to enhance, refine and scale up the operation.
"There's a lucrative export market because most countries are reliant on just a few nations that export this product," Mr Nikolic said.
It is mostly produced in North America, China and India.
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the project had been co-funded by the Government's Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre.
"This is a major national milestone which makes Australia more self-reliant and less dependent on other countries in the crucial space sector," Ms Andrews said.
"It will boost the economy, and create new skilled jobs, as we rocket toward our goal of tripling the size of the local space sector to $12 billion and an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030."
Mr Nikolic said he hoped the development would help him expand the company from nine full-time employers - bolstered by up to 12 more as needed - by another 15 staff if demand grows as hoped.
Originally published as We have the technology: Australia joins elite club