BLAST OFF: Cooloola Coast key to country's space race
THE Cooloola coastline could rocket Queensland's space program into the future with leading researchers tagging the region as an ideal spot for a launch site.
As part of submissions made into a State Government job creation inquiry on the establishment of an Australian space industry last month, University of Queensland Professor Michael Smart said Queensland's competitive advantage in scramjet technology - hypersonic engine technology with the potential to reach 15 times the speed of sound - favoured a reusable launch site.
And he knew the perfect position.
"The coastal region near Gympie would be an ideal place."
At an inquiry public hearing on October 19, Prof Smart said the region offered several unique traits which would suit a launch site for hypersonic engines and even small satellites.
These included a latitude "similar to the Florida site for the Kennedy Space Centre", a "clear and safe path over the ocean", and that the airspace was "already under defence jurisdiction and could be easily controlled".
Not that they were the only benefits.
"It is a great place where launch site staff and families could live," he said.
As it would be a reusable launch system that "does not drop rockets into the ocean", Prof Smart said it made safety and planning a lot easier.
It would also bring tourism to the region.
Products for Industry's special projects manager Nick Green told the panel there had already been discussions about the use of a Rainbow Beach landing strip. "Gympie Regional Council have already talked to me and they are quite happy for us to be doing some things out there."
And the defence force has already given them permission to use the airspace.
The panel was told the council has job growth analysis on building a launch facility for $10 million, however, it appears the council itself did not make a submission to the hearing.