Earlier today, Queensland-based Black Sky Aerospace (BSA) conducted Australia’s first ever launch carrying commercial payloads, from the nation’s only suborbital launch site in Goondiwindi, Queensland.
Today’s was a suborbital launch, with BSA’s 5-m Sighter190 sounding rocket soaring to approximately 20,000ft. The Sighter190 rocket has a mass of 80kg, and is propelled using solid fuel consisting of aluminium, ammonium chloride, and proprietary ingredients.
The launch today carried experimental payloads, including some for Hypersonix, another Australian launch startup developing the world’s first hypersonic scramjet launch vehicle. Here, Hypersonix tested sensor packages as well as a Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) panel, which the company plans on using for its own launch vehicles.
The Sighter190 also carried Dekunu One, a device developed by Dekunu Technologies targeting skydivers. Dekunu One is an enhanced altimeter that also has a 3D location tracker, flight analyser, and a situational awareness tool that can gather flight data.
BSA is currently working on a range of suborbital rockets, and is positioning itself as a suborbital payload delivery system. This first BSA/Hypersonix launch marks the beginning of Australia’s commercial launch industry, with the coming few years promising to be eventful – rocket company Gilmour Space Technologies aims to operate is Ariel sounding rocket in 2019 and its Eris orbital launch vehicle in 2020, while Equatorial Launch Australia is in the process of building Australia’s first commercial orbital launch site near Nhulunbuy, Northern Territory.