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University rockets to the top with Australian Space Awards announcement

The University of Southern Queensland is blazing a trail in space research and its achievements have not gone unnoticed.

The University’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences has been shortlisted for Research Organisation of the Year in the 2021 Australian Space Awards.

From hypersonics to astrophysics, the University is leading the way in a broad range of space-related fields, according to Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences Executive Director Professor Peter Schubel

“We are ranked well above world standard, which allows us to deliver cutting-edge research with partners such as NASA, the German Aerospace Centre and Defence,” Professor Schubel said. 

“The astrophysics team has been helping to discover exoplanets, those working in the hypersonic space are developing solid fuel rockets and the advanced material group is researching ultra-high temperature fuselage manufacturing. 

“The list goes on and on, we are working on many projects.”

The faculty is full of astronomical rock stars including Professor David Buttsworth (Thermofluids Engineering), Dr Duncan Wright (Astrophysics) and Dr Graziella Caprarelli (Astrophysics), all being shortlisted for different categories of the Australian Space Awards.

“It’s a fantastic moment for the University and the niche team that operates here,” Professor Schubel said. 

“There's some really strong competition in each category, so just to be named as a finalist in each one is a huge achievement.

“It helps people to understand what the University does, and it proves we are a major player in the space research industry.”

The University of Southern Queensland’s Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences is home to the Mt Kent Observatory, which provides the only ground-based support in the southern hemisphere for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission. 

The University’s hypersonic wind tunnel facility delivers hypersonic flows at up to Mach 8 for hypersonic aerodynamics, free-flight, proximal body separation, heat transfer, control, scramjet engine inlet starting experiments, and fluid-structure interaction experiments that cannot be performed elsewhere. 

The University’s partnership in the first privately-owned, static rocket-testing site was also announced earlier this year.

“It is a very exciting time to be involved in space research,” Professor Schubel said.

“We have entered what is being called “The Space Race 2.0” and the opportunities are endless.

“At the University of Southern Queensland, our research is outcome-driven as we work with industry to focus on solving problems and help answer the big questions.”

The Australian Space Awards recognises the leading individuals and businesses driving the development of Australia’s space economy.

The winners of the awards will be announced at a black-tie dinner on Friday, 4 June, in Sydney.

usq researchers standing with space equipment
USQ planet hunters (back from l-r) Dr Brett Addison, Professor Jonti Horner, Duncan Wright, Assistant Professor Peter Plavchan (George Mason University), Mathieu Clerte, front (from l-r) Dr Belinda Nicholson, Professor Rob Wittenmyer and Professor Brad Carter.