Jimboomba dad makes one giant leap

LOGAN is about enter the space race and a Jimboomba dad is leading the way.

LIFT OFF: A recent test conducted at Goondiwindi by Black Sky Aeronautics ahead of today's rocket launch. Photo: BSA

LIFT OFF: A recent test conducted at Goondiwindi by Black Sky Aeronautics ahead of today's rocket launch. Photo: BSA

Father of two Blake Nikolic, from Mundoolun, is the man behind the company that will stage Australia’s first commercial rocket launch, blasting off at Goondiwindi on Wednesday, November 21.

LIFT OFF: Black Sky Aerospace founder Blake Nikolic reveals a small piece of Sighter190, developed in the shed where runs a business from home at Mundoolun. Photo: Lisa Simmons

LIFT OFF: Black Sky Aerospace founder Blake Nikolic reveals a small piece of Sighter190, developed in the shed where runs a business from home at Mundoolun. Photo: Lisa Simmons

Mr Nikolic is director of a company called Black Sky Aerospace. He works out of two industrial sheds built by the house on a rural property where he lives with his wife Kayleigh and children Kaleb, 3 and Piper, 1.

There, Mr Nikolic and his crew have developed and built a Sighter190 research rocket. It will be the first in Australia to have a commercial payload and reach the lower limits of Earth’s atmosphere.

The launch is a test run that paves the way for space technology to collect data for industries like mining, farming and communications.

The rocket will stand five metres tall, is built of a composite material and powered by solid composite propellant.

It will break the speed of sound two seconds after launch and is capable of flying to heights of 100,000 ft though it is not expected to go as high today before it parachutes back to Earth.

Space is a $3-4 billion a year industry in Australia that employs about 10,000 people. The state government is running a parliamentary inquiry into regional Queensland’s ability to contribute to the setting up of a space industry.

Mr Nikolic said Australian rocket launches would put revenue back into pockets and improve turnaround times for Australian supply chains which deal with tough international regulations.

“With a global market worth US$360 billion seeing exponential growth, Australia will naturally benefit by companies like BSA supporting the ever growing satellite market and beyond,” he said.

BSA specialises in payload delivery systems that redefine the way traditional data is acquired.

“Simply put, we don’t need to send a multi-billion dollar satellite into space to collect data on our farmer’s crops any more,” he said.

“A successful launch of the Sighter190 subscale sounding rocket will see space and satellite accessibility more affordable and much more sustainable for small and medium sized business.”

University of Queensland and Hypersonix founder Professor Michael Smart is part of the team that supplies a carbon-composite panel that has sensors embedded to measure temperature during the flight.

“This flight will further cement the university’s strong presence in hypersonics and demonstrate our ability to manufacture flight ready carbon composite components,” Mr Smart said.

LIFT OFF: Blake Nikolic and Duncan Armstrong.Photo: Lisa Simmons

LIFT OFF: Blake Nikolic and Duncan Armstrong.Photo: Lisa Simmons

“This proves this technology is accessible in Queensland and there is plenty of potential for growth in this area.”

Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) and Dekunu Technologies will also have payloads on the rocket.

Jimboomba loves a rocket launch. Nearby Cedar Creek is the home of an annual event called Smoke Flames & Noise.

Mr Nikolic’s background is in fireworks and as an army pilot. He credits his dad, Petar, a retired science teacher who joins him on the launch crew, for his love of rockets.

“Growing up, we’d do all sorts of experiments at home,” he said.

Australia swim favourite Duncan Armstrong will be the voice of the launch.

LIFT OFF: Blake Nikolic and Duncan Armstrong.Photo: Lisa Simmons

LIFT OFF: Blake Nikolic and Duncan Armstrong.Photo: Lisa Simmons

Mr Nikolic is taking the city with him on his journey. The logo of Logan City Council is emblazoned on the rocket that will take its payload into Low Earth Orbit.