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Carbon Neutral ‘Spaceplane’ Parts to Be Manufactured at Sydney

Image Credits: the University of Sydney, Press Release

The Sydney Manufacturing Hub will develop and manufacture components for a green hydrogen-powered launch vehicle capable of deploying small satellites into low earth orbit.

An aerospace engineering start-up has signed a Master Research Collaboration Agreement (MRCA) with the University of Sydney to research and manufacture the components of a zero-emissions, hypersonic spaceplane — a launch vehicle capable of deploying small satellites into low earth orbit (LEO).

Named Delta Velos, the vehicle will be powered by four green hydrogen-fuelled scramjet engines, enabling carbon-neutral propulsion. It will also include the world’s first 3-D printed fixed geometry (no moving parts) scramjet engine in Australia, completed under the Australian Commercialisation grant awarded to the aerospace start-up in August 2020.

Using next-generation additive manufacturing technology, University of Sydney researchers will develop flight-critical components (including the spaceplane’s launch system), further versions of the scramjet engine (testing several material components) and vehicle fuselage at the University’s Sydney Manufacturing Hub. The hub was launched in December 2021 by Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade, Tourism and Sport, and Western Sydney the Hon. Stuart Ayres.

The research team will be led by Professor Simon Ringer, a materials engineer and expert in materials development for additive manufacturing at the University of Sydney, whose team will work alongside the start-up’s Chief Technology Officer.

Professor Ringer stated that the team is delighted to be working alongside such an innovative, deep technology company like the start-up using advanced 3-D printing processes and world-class additive manufacturing facilities for such an important challenge.

Additive manufacturing is making the previously impossible, possible. This includes the proposed manufacture of satellite-launching spaceplane components right here at the University of Sydney’s Darlington campus, situated in the very heart of Tech Central, he added.

The Managing Director of the start-up noted that the company had received a lot of interest for its recently announced DART AE project, and would possibly involve the University of Sydney in that project too. They are pleased to have found such 3-D additive engineering facilities in Sydney and are impressed with the capabilities of Simon Ringer’s team, he said.

The joint project will commence in early 2022, with the aerospace company working in the facility to develop a series of smaller proof-of-concept launch vehicles to demonstrate the spaceplane’s efficacy.

The first of these projects will be DART AE, a technology demonstrator and small version of Delta Velos, powered by one single SPARTAN scramjet engine, with a range of 500km, that could also possibly be used as a hypersonic target drone if required.

About The Sydney Manufacturing Hub at The University Of Sydney

Located in the Engineering precinct of the University of Sydney’s Darlington campus, the Sydney Manufacturing Hub is a new manufacturing-focused research facility that will work alongside industry to deliver cutting-edge R&D in additive manufacturing.

The Hub is geared to enable concept-to-production demonstration capabilities and includes advanced pre- and post-processing of materials. This user facility will support researchers and companies to leverage 3-D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) of metals, ceramics and polymers.

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