Made in Aust: Black Sky’s solid rocket fuel


James Riley
Editorial Director

Queensland-based space company Black Sky Aerospace has successfully launched its first rocket powered by Australian-made solid-state fuel.

Black Sky developed an original process for the manufacture of solid rocket fuel with the assistance of a grant from the federal government’s Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC), and successfully used it to launch in outback Queensland in January.

Until this launch, solid rocket fuels for the global markets are manufactured primarily in North America, India and China, and the difficulties in importing this fuel has been an impediment to the more rapid development of an Australian launch industry.

Black Sky
Black Sky: A gap in the space industry supply chain has been filled

The availability of an Australian-made solid-state fuel is a potential export opportunity, but more importantly will drive the development of the local space sector, according to Black Sky chief executive Blake Nikolic.

“Now that we have been able to manufacture locally it is going to open up opportunities for export, and obviously with the growing space industry, it is vital that we have these capabilities made right here in Australia,” Mr Nikolic said. “And this particular rocket fuel is going to drive a lot of that technology.”

“Unlike liquid fuels, solid fuels are also easier and safer to transport, store and to use; making it a real advantage for both Australian companies, and for the potential export market,” he said.

Industry minister Karen Andrews said the January Black Sky launch was another important marker in the development of a strong domestic space industry.

“This is a first for us here in Australia and quite frankly demonstrates how significant the space sector is [in this country],” Minister Andrews said.

“What we have done here is to potentially open up that market for Australian-made solid-state rocket fuel. This gives us a very strong entry point as to how we build further space capability here,” she said.

“With Australia now able to make our own solid-state rocket fuel, we’re building robust supply chains for the Australian space sector, as well as other connected industries like defence.”

Mrs Andrews said that the newly appointed head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo – who started work last week – had been specifically tasked with growing the nation’s launch capability and capacity.

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