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Aerial view of the earth from space with lights sparkling over Europe
Aerial view of the earth from space with lights sparkling over Europe

Space

Partner with us to advance new frontiers in space for a more sustainable life on earth.

Forging new human endeavours in space

UQ is applying our cutting-edge research and technology to build Australia’s advanced manufacturing base, develop the STEM workforce to meet sovereign space aspirations, improve environmental and socio-economic outcomes and improve the health of astronauts at international space stations.

Our excellence in high temperature matrix composite materials is boosted by integration with Queensland’s vibrant defence and aerospace community, characterised by innovative SMEs connected to global supply chains.

We've provided a significant portion of the world’s hypersonic expertise and continue to work closely with our partners in other disciplines, such as quantum communications for space, human habitation and health, earth observation and remote sensing.

Australia as seen from space with sunlight and clouds hitting parts of the country

What we offer

Partnering with us provides access to the following benefits.

Secure quantum communications

Our quantum researchers are pioneering a new class of computing and communication devices more robust to radiation, which can extend satellite operations.

High-temperature materials

We're developing high-temperature composite materials that can withstand the extreme conditions of hypersonic flight and space travel.

Protection for space missions

In partnership with Boeing Research and Technology-Australia, antimicrobial coatings developed by UQ scientists are protecting international space missions.

Our capabilities

We offer capabilities in the following spaces.

Physics researcher

Hypersonics

  • Development of hypervelocity test facilities for space propulsion and planetary entry and high-speed vehicle science
  • Experimentation, analysis and design of SCRAMjet propulsion
  • Development of electric propulsion systems and flight testing demonstrations
  • Aerothermodynamic experimentation and analysis for rocket flight testing
  • Advanced instrumentation for aerodynamic measurements
  • Computational fluid dynamic analysis of hypervelocity flows
  • Optical diagnostics for hypervelocity super-orbital flows
  • Development of technologies for near earth observation
UQ researcher sits at a desk in front of a series of gas tanks and tubes with a high temperature instrument

Advanced manufacturing and composites

  • Investigating new technologies for efficient machining of aircraft components
  • Developing techniques to machine titanium components 
  • Using Laser-assisted machining to lower force and allow for faster cutting rates 
  • Using advanced coolant technologies to remove heat from cutting tools and extending tool life 
  • Using modelling to better understand the cutting process, allowing researchers to identify better machining processes
  • Benchmarking to improve machining technologies, refine machining techniques, optimise tool path programming and improve productivity
  • Advanced manufacturing of ceramic matrix composites to handle high temperature and mechanical stresses
Close up of gloved hands holding a tray of seedlings

Human habitation and health

  • Mitigating the effects of living in reduced gravity environments 
  • Improving mental and physical health, and managing musculoskeletal pain in astronauts 
  • Recovery during and after long-term flight 
  • Energy requirements for muscle mass maintenance and optimal performance 
  • Evaluation of novel foodstuffs grown, harvested and consumed during long flights or on non-terrestrial bases 
  • Monitoring of trace organic pollutants and chemicals of concern 
  • Enhancing cognitive performance and offsetting the impacts of sleep deprivation
  • VR-based training optimisation
  • Antimicrobial coatings to protect personnel in spacecraft and space stations
  • Speed breeding techniques for plants
Aerial view over Brisbane showing the river and built up environments

Earth observation and remote sensing

  • Providing private and public sector with techniques to turn satellite and airborne images and field survey data into meaningful maps or information
  • Providing foundational knowledge and skills in image acquisition and analysis as part of geo-spatial information programs in our science, arts, environmental science and management degrees
  • Developing Australia’s capabilities to collect and use earth observation data across all our industries, levels of government, community and research groups
  • Key members of the Queensland Earth Observation Hub – a jointly funded initiative of SmartSat CRC and the Queensland Government
  • Leading role in the Joint Remote Sensing Research Program (JRSRP), which utilises remotely sensed data, field-work and spatial models to measure, map and monitor biophysical properties in terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic environments to better understand and manage the earth’s environments and resources.
Satellite flying through space above the earth in daylight and night

Quantum technologies

Our quantum research specialises in:

  • magnetic field sensors and communication devices for space science and communications
  • computer processors for the aerospace industry based on the flow of phonons (quanta of mechanical vibrations) rather than electrons
  • foundations of quantum cryptography for secure ground-to-satellite communications.

Partner with us

Keen to know more or have an idea for a partnership? Contact our industry specialist. 

Dr Greta Nabbs-Keller
Associate Director (Defence, Space and National Security)
Strategic Partnerships - Government and Industry
Email g.nabbskeller@uq.edu.au

The BoLT II rocket launching from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility.

Facilities and infrastructure

Key facilities and equipment includes:

  • UQ Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing 
  • UQ Centre of Hypersonics including extensive shock tunnel and testing facilities
  • Australian Program Office for Advanced Hypersonics (APOAH)
  • Ground testing facilities and analytical instrumentation 
  • Boeing Research and Technology (BR&T-Australia) Technology Centre
  • UQ Precision Sensing Initiative
  • UQ Queensland Quantum Optics Laboratory.

We also offer:

  • micro and nanofabrication facilities, provided through the Australian National Fabrication Facility (Queensland Node) and the Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
  • photonic and electronic integration, packaging and prototyping facilities provided through the UQ Precision Sensing Initiative and Australian Centre for Engineered Quantum Systems.

These state of the art facilities allow the design and fabrication of precision quantum and photonic technologies at the few-nanometre level and their deployment into applications.

Who we work with

Partners

  • Australian Space Agency
  • SmartSat CRC
  • Sovereign Manufacturing Automation for Composites (SOMAC CRC)
  • Queensland Earth Observation Hub
  • Gilmour Space Technologies
  • Black Sky Aerospace 
  • Hypersonix Launch Systems
  • NASA
  • Defence Science and Technology Group
  • Defence Materials Technology Centre 
  • Lockheed Martin Australia 
  • Thales Australia 
  • Boeing Research and Technology-Australia 
  • BAE Systems 

Research stories

See our research in action, learn more about ongoing projects and read our success stories.

Advancing the science of planetary entry
Graphic depicting atmospheric entry of NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover.

Advancing the science of planetary entry

See the work our UQ researchers are doing to improve modelling and testing of the heat shields that protect spacecraft entering the atmospheres of the giant planets, such as Uranus and Neptune.

A new era of hypersonics testing
UQ expert works with a partner to discuss equations written on glass overlooking a workshop

A new era of hypersonics testing

Learn more about the UQ partnership which enabled our researchers to launch the Boundary Layer Turbulence Flight Experience (BoLT II) rocket and the data collected around boundary layer transition, turbulent heating and drag at hypersonic speed.

UQ heats up the space race
Dr Christian Kudisonga (left) and Dr Michael Heitzmann

UQ heats up the space race

A custom-built furnace that can heat materials to almost 3,000 degrees Celsius has been installed at UQ to develop components for Australia’s space industry.