Three young Queenslanders (Andrew Uscinski, Michael Douw and Benjamin Dodd) who met while students at the University of Queensland, have designed space rocket parts bound for orbit.
The trio initiated a start-up company Valiant Space to build thrusters for satellites in orbit. They used a facility in Toowoomba to test the thrusters.
Now their thrusters will be set to work onboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX to manoeuvre small satellites in space.
They designed, built and tested a solenoid valve to allow the spacecraft’s engine to be turned on and off by controlling the flow of propellant to the thruster. The propellant is non-toxic industrial-grade propane and nitrous oxide.
In their words “the propane is just the same as what you use in your barbecue and the nitrous oxide is the same as what you might see at a dentist”, and because it’s easily available around the world, their technology will attract satellite customers around the world.
In December 2022, the valves will undergo major testing when they’re sent into orbit onboard SpaceX from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida, in preparation for a full propulsion system launch in mid-2023.
Valiant Space has been supported by the Queensland government’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub.
Image courtesy of Alice Pavlovic of ABC News.