9th National Space Engineering Symposium

September 1994

"The Australian Space Research Institute"

"Space Technology Education within Australia"

M. Blair and W. Williams

The Australian Space Research Institute Ltd. (ASRI) is a non-profit organisation formed out of the merger of the Australian Space Engineering Research Association Ltd., and the Ausroc Projects Group. ASRI was formally created to consolidate the various non-profit space engineering research groups, within the country, into a focused, integrated national education program.

ASRI is currently undertaking research, development and educational programs in launch vehicle and satellite technology areas. The Institute has been formed to fill a void in these research, development and educational disciplines within Australia. ASRI is coordinating numerous space engineering projects at various universities to allow students and ASRI members to gain practical space engineering experience. This paper describes the current structure and activities of ASRI.

It is hoped that this "hands-on" approach to launch vehicle and satellite technology education, as provided by ASRI, will enhance the national technology base and provide a small stream of enthusiastic engineers and scientists capable of participating in future national or international programs.

9th National Space Engineering Symposium

September 1994




               M. A. Blair                     W. R. Williams
               B.E.(Mech.), M.I.E.Aust.        B.E.(Mech.), M.I.E.Aust.>
               ASRI Director                   ASRI Director
               Ausroc Program Coordinator      Scramjet Program Coordinator


The Australian Space Research Institute Ltd. (ASRI) is a non-profit
organisation formed out of the merger of the Australian Space Engineering
Research Association Ltd., and the Ausroc Projects Group. This merger was
formalised on the 17th May 1993. The CSIRO and the Australian Tax Office
have approved ASRI as an 'Approved Research Institute'. ASRI was formally
created to consolidate the various non-profit space engineering research
groups, within the country, into a focused, integrated national education

ASRI is currently undertaking research, development and educational
programs in launch vehicle and satellite technology areas. The Institute
has been formed to fill a void in these research, development and
educational disciplines within Australia. ASRI is coordinating numerous
space engineering projects at  universities around the country to allow
students and ASRI members to gain practical space engineering experience.
This paper describes the current structure and activities of ASRI.

It is hoped that this "hands-on" approach to launch vehicle and satellite
technology education, as is provided by ASRI, will enhance the national
technology base and provide a small stream of enthusiastic engineers and
scientists capable of participating in future national or international


The Australian Space Research Institute was formed to provide support
Australian space activities through the conduct of research, development
and educational programs. The  objectives with which ASRI has been founded

*       Develop and advance space science and technology.

*       Conduct, encourage and promote research in the field of space science
        and technology.

*       Educate and extend knowledge in the field of space science and
        technology and to make available education opportunities in the field 
        of space science and technology to supplement and further those
        opportunities made available by established educational institutions.

*       Conduct, co-ordinate and support projects for the advancement of the
        above objects.


The new ASRI organisational structure consists of a board of 7 directors
and a research committee of 5 members. These are:

Board of Directors.

Chairman                Mark Blair - DSTO
Vice Chairman           Craig Lindley - CSIRO, Information Technology
Secretary               Gary Luckman - Research Chemist, Bush Pty. Ltd.
Treasurer               Tzu-Pei Chen - Director Ardebil Pty. Ltd.
Research Dir.           Ian Bryce - Hawker de Havilland
                        John Coleman - President, Space Association of Australia
                        Warren Williams - DSTO

Research Committee.

Ian Bryce               (Hawker de Havilland).
Dr Ian Tuohy            (BAeA Space Technical Manager).
Phil Pearson            (ex-DSTO-GWD).
Dr. Miles Moody         (QUT-Head Electrical Eng.).
Dr. Brian Embleton      (Director COSSA.)


The current ASRI projects cover a broad range of space technology fields at
various levels of complexity. These projects cater for the involvement of
students from the high school level through to university post graduate

The major program areas are determined by the directors acting on the
advice and suggestions from the ASRI members. The program coordinators
determine the subproject breakdown of their particular program and forward
the subprojects to the ASRI membership as well as to national universities
as student projects. University staff and industry personnel assist the
ASRI members in the supervision of the student project work. A description
of the ASRI projects is provided below.

CARATEL -  Experimental Liquid Fuelled Vehicle

Caratel is a 2.6m liquid fuelled rocket based on the Ausroc I propulsion
system with a newly developed payload and improved aerodynamic surfaces.
The emphasis has been on thorough analysis and testing with development of
some innovative instrumentation concepts.

To date, the majority of the vehicle systems are complete including the
propulsion system, fins, recovery system, payload module and avionics.
Further systems integration, test and evaluation is to be carried out in
the near future. Regular meetings are held every 2 weeks by the Caratel
working group at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

The Caratel flight trial is planned for later this year, or early 1995,
pending the successful completion of final systems tests.  It is hoped to
launch Caratel from one of the local military ranges located in the Sydney

AUSROC II-2  -  Liquid fuelled Demonstration Vehicle.

Ausroc II-2 is the modified and updated vehicle based on the original
Ausroc II. concept.   The original Ausroc II suffered a launch failure in
1992 due to faulty LOX valve actuator operation. The design flaws of the
original vehicle identified after post flight inspection, have resulted in
the re-design of some systems, and these have been incorporated into Ausroc

The development of Ausroc II-2 hardware has been progressing at a steady
pace, and it is hoped that final assembly of the vehicle structure will
occur in August. Essentially all internal systems such as valves,
actuators, check valves, plumbing, hatches, mounting adaptors,
pressurisation system, recovery system and fin unit are complete, and are
awaiting installation into the vehicle during the final assembly.

The electronics module is complete, with the exception of the memory board,
and is in the process of being extensively tested. Custom test equipment
has been fabricated for use in this program.

At the completion of the final assembly of the vehicle in Melbourne, it
will be transported to ASRI's test facility in Adelaide for a comprehensive
series of tests. These tests will include vibration mode analysis,
pressurisation trials, cryogenic temperature effects, pyrotechnic component
evaluations and sequencing trials.

HQ-Australian Defence Force has approved ASRI's request to use the Woomera
Rocket Range in South Australia for the Ausroc II-2 launch which is planned
to take place late 1994 or early 1995. This approval has cleared the way
for ASRI to define specific details of the trial with  RAAF-Aircraft
Research and Development Unit (ARDU).

AUSROC III - Developmental Sounding Rocket.

Ausroc III is the third of the Ausroc series of liquid fuelled launch
vehicles.  Ausroc III is aimed at promoting space based education through
the development of launch vehicle technologies. Ausroc III is a sounding
rocket capable of lifting 100kg of useful scientific payload to an altitude
of 500km with a recovery capability. The vehicle is also being developed as
a test bed for a number of technologies that have direct application in
satellite launchers. These technologies include: regenerative liquid
propulsion, composite structures, inertial navigation, 3 axis vehicle
guidance and control, telemetry and flight termination systems, ground
support, tracking and range safety.

ASRI promotes and supports the Ausroc III program through cooperation with
Australian Universities and a team of dedicated ASRI members. Test rigs for
the hydraulic gimbal system and the cold gas roll control system have been
designed, and are in the process of being manufactured and tested at
Adelaide University.

The launch pad, tower and supporting ground infrastructure component
designs are making significant progress at the University of Southern Qld.
and should be manufactured by the end of the year in preparation for tests
in early 1995.

Students from Sydney University are significantly advanced on the Ausroc
III fairing design.  Given that the required manufacturing support is
available, prototype fairings may be ready for test by the end of 1994.

Several students from the University of South Australia are presently
developing hardware for the telemetry system. Prototype circuit boards will
be manufactured in the near future with the overall objective of this
particular task is to produce an end-to-end telemetry system.

Students from the Queensland University of Technology are tasked with
Ausroc III range safety, impact prediction, tracking and flight
termination. This system is  to be implemented at the Woomera Range in
support of the Ausroc III flight safety requirements.  Range trials of
these systems should commence in 1995.

In addition to these student projects, numerous members are involved in
providing technical assistance and advice, as well as undertaking various
other projects. These other projects include the glide recovery parachute
system and the Ausroc III rocket motor development.

The Ausroc III program has now been in existence for 3 years and in that
time approximately 70 students from 10 Universities around the country have
undertaken engineering design exercises from the broad range of launch
vehicle disciplines making up the Ausroc III system. The program represents
a learning experience for all those involved since no launch vehicle of
this type has ever been developed in Australia.

AUSROC IV - Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The ultimate goal of the Ausroc Program is to develop a capability to place
a micro-satellite (20-40kg) into a polar orbit. The Ausroc IV project is
still very much in its infancy and its future depends very much on the
success of Ausroc III.

In its current form, Ausroc IV will consist of 3 stages. The first stage
consists of 4 Ausroc III modules clustered around a fifth central core
module which forms the second stage. A solid fuelled rocket motor is
planned for the third stage.

Preliminary trajectory simulations have confirmed that the proposed
configuration will attain a 300km polar orbit with an Australis class
microsatellite weighing approximately 20kg.

A solid fuelled rocket development program has recently been commenced by
students at Adelaide University to develop a composite solid propellant to
fill a Waxwing I upper stage rocket motor donated to Ausroc by Royal
Ordnance in the UK.  Waxwing I motors were used as 3rd stage motors in the
British Black Arrow satellite launch vehicle and are ideally sized for the
Ausroc IV application.

An educational R & D program of this type and magnitude has not yet been
undertaken anywhere in the world. If completed, this program will represent
a significant milestone for space technology and education within

AUSTRALIS-1  -  Micro-satellite.

The Australis-1 project is currently in the systems definition and
preliminary design phase, with considerable progress being made in 1993.
Milestones completed so far include:

        - completion of the Concept Definition Document
        - completion of the top level design of the attitude control system
        - completion of the top level design of the telemetry and power systems
        - establishment of a ground control station at QUT
        - completion of the top level design of the IRIS imaging system
        - completion of the Australis-1 Top Level Design document
        - completion of the autonomous control architecture
        - commencement of functional prototyping

The projects being undertaken in 1994 include the solar panels, telemetry
systems and system reliability analysis. A number of members are continuing
with developmental work on the IRIS imaging system, system architecture,
structural design layout and coordination activities throughout the year.

It is currently planned to have Australis-1 launched from an Ariane
Satellite Auxiliary Platform (ASAP) on Ariane 4, or as a Get-Away-Special
(GAS) deployable payload on the Space Shuttle. The interfacing issues
related to the future launch will be defined during 1994.

HTV Project. - Scramjet Development Program

ASRI is currently involved in a joint program with the University of
Queensland leading to the development of free flight scramjet systems and
an engineering mock-up in 1994. Given the inherent complexities of scramjet
technology, it has become apparent that there is a requirement for some
precursor free-flight hypersonic research trials to be undertaken to
validate and compliment the shock tunnel data being obtained at the
University of Queensland, and elsewhere around the world. This data will
greatly assist in the future development of prototype scramjet engines.

For some time now, ASRI has been searching for a suitable booster rocket to
undertake a hypersonic research trial. Negotiations are currently underway
with both NASA and the Australian Space Office (ASO) regarding the possible
launch of a Hypersonic Test Vehicle (HTV) at the end of the planned NASA
sounding rocket campaign to be held at Woomera in September 1995.
Hopefully, a positive decision will be reached by both the ASO and NASA in
the near future regarding this proposal.

This opportunity offers considerable cost savings to ASRI and UQ over
conducting such a trial independently. Given that NASA personnel would
conduct the firing, it also alleviates some of the problems associated with
obtaining the US State Department approvals associated with the procurement
of the booster rockets.

The HTV is an experimental payload module intended to be flown atop a NASA
provided launch vehicle. The launch vehicle in question is a 2 stage Taurus
/Nike rocket motor combination. Both these motors are surplus ex-military

The intended flight profile will involve launching the vehicle at a launch
angle of 70 degrees to the horizontal. The first stage Taurus burns for 3.5
seconds and accelerates the vehicle to approximately Mach 2.6 before
separation. The second stage Nike and HTV payload then coast to an apogee
of approximately 12 km before ignition of the Nike motor.

The Nike burns for 3.5 seconds and accelerates the vehicle to approximately
Mach 5. The HTV payload will remain attached to the burnt-out Nike motor
case which provides aerodynamic stability.

Immediately after the Nike motor burn-out, the HTV fuel valve is opened
allowing a fuel flow to the hypersonic combustors to initiate supersonic

The HTV will operate for a period of approximately 5 seconds and log
combustion pressure and temperature profiles and other system parameters. A
telemetry system will transmit this data in real time to ground receivers
for reduction, analysis and evaluation of system performance.

At the completion of the burn period, the HTV will be separated from the
Nike booster. The recovery mode will rely on the HTV aerodynamic
instability to create a low speed ground impact. This will allow for a post
flight inspection of the HTV.

The HTV payload consists of 6 instrumented hypersonic combustion modules
arranged around a central core containing the fuel supply system. The
hypersonic combustion modules contain an air compression intake, a
cylindrical combustion chamber and an expansion nozzle.

The fuelling system consists of a 28 L. fuel tank pressurised by gaseous
nitrogen. The ethylene fuel is fed under pressure to heat exchanger modules
surrounding each of the 6 combustion chambers. Due to system ignition
constraints, silane gas will be dissolved into the fuel to act as an
ignition aid.

The core structure of the HTV consists of a conical fore-body, a
cylindrical center-body and a cylindrical aft- body which attaches the HTV
to the Nike booster rocket.

The low temperature regions of the HTV structure are to be manufactured
from high strength aluminium alloys. In regions of moderate temperature,
stainless or mild steel will be used. The high temperature regions of the
structure will be manufactured from molybdenum or protected by ablative

The avionics equipment will be located in an instrumentation bay in the
forebody and will consist of a flight management system and a telemetry
system. The flight management system controls the flight sequence and data
logging to the black box flight recorders. The telemetry system receives,
conditions and encodes the sensor and system data and transmits this data
to ground receivers.

The ASRI/UQ program was originally planned to be based over a period of
approximately 3 years. This opportunity, however, will require the program
to be placed on a fast track to meet the 1995 launch deadline. We believe
that this proposed program will satisfy 3 major objectives as follows:

*       To increase education, skills and experience of Australian Researchers.
*       To advance the technical knowledge base related to hypersonic flight
        and scramjet combustion.
*       To raise the profile of space engineering activity within Australia.

This proposal represents a rare opportunity for ASRI / UQ to undertake a
hypersonic research trial at minimal cost. If the proposal is accepted, we
will be looking forward to an exciting and intensive 16 months of activity
to advance hypersonic research activity within Australia.

83 mm and 127 mm Rocket Motor Educational Program

This is a new program which has stemmed from the availability of surplus
military solid rocket motors in the 83 mm and 127 mm diameter class. Negotiations
are currently underway with the RAAF to arrange transfer of these motors
for ASRI educational programs. If all goes well, ASRI will be able to store
these motors at the Woomera magazine for use at the Range in the near future.

It is  envisioned that ASRI will design and manufacture the payload modules
for the 2 rocket motor types, and offer flight slots to members, research
institutions, universities and high schools around the country. These
rockets have the capability to place payloads of up to 10kg to altitudes
between 5-20 km.

Several payloads are presently being developed for demonstration trials
coinciding with the Ausroc II-2 launch campaign in late 1994 or early 1995.
Preliminary discussions are presently underway to allow Avionics
engineering students at QUT opportunities to fly electronic payloads as
early as 1995.


In order to carry out these ASRI programs a broad range of scientific and
engineering disciplines are being pursued by the Institute.  These include
the following:

*   Liquid, Solid and Hybrid rocket propulsion systems.
*   Guidance and Control Systems.
*   Composite and Lightweight Structures.
*   Telemetry Systems.
*   Launch site development and operations.
*   Aerodynamic testing and analysis.
*   Flight Safety Systems.
*   Spacecraft Structures.
*   Space qualified electronics.
*   Supersonic airbreathing propulsion technology.
*   Systems Engineering Methodologies.


Since its inception, ASRI has been searching the nation for facilities and
services to support the space engineering developmental work it undertakes.
The ASRI directors have declared 1994 as 'Infrastructure Year'. This has
resulted in the formation of ASRI mechanical workshops in both Melbourne
and Adelaide.

The Melbourne workshop is located in Noble Park and consists of machining
equipment provided to ASRI on long term loan from COSSA. This facility has
approximately 40 sq.m of floor space.

The Adelaide facility is located in Salisbury and the building consists of
11 work bays and 650 sq.m of floor space. The building, which was
previously used as a rocket motor integration building has been leased to
ASRI from the Department of Defence. Machining equipment, which has been
provided to ASRI on long term loan from the DSTO Scientific and Engineering
Services, has been moved into the building for manufacturing support. This
facility can be used for the integration and systems testing of all the
ASRI launch vehicles and payloads.

Further facilities are made available by the universities involved in the
ASRI programs to support the student project work being undertaken. To
date, the following Universities have been involved with the ASRI program

    Adelaide University
    Monash University
    Queensland University of Technology
    Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
    Sydney University
    University of NSW
    University of Queensland
    University of SA
    University of Southern Queensland
    University of Technology, Sydney

Thus, ASRI now has the technical and facilities base to fully support its
project work. These facilities are enabling ASRI to further its 'hands-on'
approach to space technology education.


Technical reports which are produced during the course of student and
member project work are  kept in the ASRI library system. To date
approximately 74 technical reports have been produced and 14 conference
papers have been presented. Copies of ASRI technical reports and papers can
be ordered through the Institute. A newsletter is produced every 2 months
and distributed to members Australia wide.

An annual ASRI Conference is held some time in the period Dec.-Feb. of each
year and provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of project
work that has been undertaken for all project areas in the preceding year.


The resources for the various ASRI programs are derived from a variety of
sources. Firstly, from the ASRI membership fees, which are used for the
administration costs of the Institute (ie. newsletters, journals, printing,
postage, conference expenses and the annual audit costs) as well as for the
purchase of required project hardware.

Secondly, the majority of the financial and material resources are derived
from government grants and sponsorship arrangements with commercial
organisations.  Government agencies which have provided support to ASRI

        Australian Space Office (ASO)
        CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications (COSSA)
        Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO)
                Explosives Ordnance Division (EOD)
                Guided Weapons Division (GWD)
                Scientific Engineering Services (SES)
        Department of Defence
        Explosives Factory Maribyrnong (EFM)
        Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
        South Australian Economic Development Authority (EDA)

The current commercial organisations supporting the ASRI programs include:

        Ardebil Pty. Ltd.
        Australasian Rocket Engineers (ARE)
        Australian Defence Industries (ADI)
        Australian Space Insurance Group (ASIG)
        Commonwealth Industrial Gases (CIG)
        Davidson Pty Ltd
        Hawker De Havilland (HdH)
        H. I. Fraser Pty. Ltd.
        Pendry Pty. Ltd.
        Russell Engineering Pty. Ltd.

The last, but by no means the least, source of program support comes from
the multitude of private individuals who have given their own time and
personal resources to assist in the fulfilment of the Institute's
activities. This voluntary human resource pool consists not only of
professional engineers, scientists, tradesmen and technicians but also of
lawyers, graphic designers, insurers, reporters and others from around the
country who believe in the creation of a national space program and are
prepared to undertake the groundwork required to achieve it. It is this
very resource and its' enthusiasm that led to the creation of the
Australian Space Research Institute and which will sustain it in the future.


Much of what we strive to achieve through ASRI was undertaken in one form
or another by the engineers and scientists who comprised the halcyon days
of the Anglo-Australian Joint Project and the Woomera Rocket Range. Many of
these people still reside in Australia and can provide substantial 'real
life' expertise and input into our programs. Much has been learned already
from a number of such individuals who also share our vision of a vigorous
national space program. The 'cascade' of technical know-how from the aging
members of Australia's space history to the junior ranks has essentially
dried up through several decades of inactivity. Such loss has seriously
affected our nation's technological data base and makes our task all the
more difficult.

Much effort has been expended to create a formal institution which can
assist in the promotion and development of space science, technology and
education within Australia. International links have been established with
a variety of organisations, pursuing similar objectives to ourselves, in
recognition of the growing need to interact on a global scale in future
space programs. Our nation currently has a deficiency in the R&D and
educational aspects of space science and technology and it is because of
this that we believe ASRI has a distinct role to play in the future of
Australian space technology education.

It is the belief of the ASRI directors that the "hands-on" approach to
launch vehicle and satellite technology education, as is currently being
provided, will enhance the national technology base and provide a small
stream of enthusiastic engineers and scientists capable of participating in
future national or international programs.

The ASRI program is, indeed, ambitious and presents us with a demanding set
of challenges. But without the challenge, vision and commitment, essential
for a space program, we will not advance, nor will we be able to interact
with our international neighbours in the future.


- Caratel
- Ausroc II-2
- Ausroc III
- Ausroc Models
- Australis
- 83 mm & 127 mm Rockets
- Building 5

Previous ASRI and AUSROC updates can be obtained by anonymous ftp to audrey.levels.unisa.edu.au in directory space/AUSROC

If you would like to join the Australian Space Research Institute write to

ASRI Ltd. PO Box 184 Ryde NSW 2112 Australia

The annual fee is AUS$25 for students and pensioners and AUS$100 for normal membership. If you live overseas write for membership costs. All member funds are used to support ASRI programs. Membership allows you to

Steven S. Pietrobon,  Australian Space Centre for Signal Processing
Signal Processing Research Institute, University of South Australia
The Levels, SA 5095, Australia.     steven@spri.levels.unisa.edu.au