About the SCRAMSPACE project

Designed and built in Brisbane, this is a $14 million, three-year research project to collect valuable data from an 8600km/h (Mach 8) high-speed test flight of a hypersonic scramjet.

SCRAMSPACE is the first and largest project funded by the Australian Space Research Program. It builds on Australia's world-class hypersonics heritage, and its core objective is to build capacity and capability, in particular a talent pool, for the Australian space and aerospace industry.

This is achieved partly by means of the Mach 8 flight experiment, for which a team of exceptional young scientists and engineers has been assembled, and partly through extensive ground-based research involving many PhD students at UQ and partner universities.

By addressing key scientific and technological questions, the consortium is conducting ground-tests at up to Mach 14 and a flight-test of a free-flying scramjet at Mach 8.

Unfortunately, the scramjet payload was not delivered to the correct altitude and speed during the flight test on 18 September 2013 due to a problem with the first-stage rocket motor.

While the final stage of the project, the flight test, did not deliver hypersonic flight data, the ground testing and modelling and analysis components of the project delivered many important research results that will be published in papers and theses in the coming years.

Latest SCRAMSPACE updates

Australia's Scramspace launch is unsuccessful
Australia's SCRAMSPACE hypersonics flight experiment from the Andøya Rocket Range in Norway was unsuccessful...


Scramjet tipped for launch any day now
Australia's hypersonic scramjet could launch as early as Monday, with ideal weather conditions predicted...


Six-day window to launch Australia's hypersonic scramjet
The six-day window to launch Australia's SCRAMSPACE scramjet begins on Sunday, September 15 ...


Australia's hypersonic scramjet arrives in Norway for launch
The team will prepare it for its 8600km/h “hypersonic swan-dive” from the edge of space ...


Not at top speed yet: Australia's scramjet ships to Norway
Though it is capable of speeds of up to 8600km/h, the SCRAMSPACE hypersonic scramjet is....


Industry leader’s important role in testing UQ’s SCRAMSPACE
Partnering with industry leader BAE Systems has literally allowed The University of Queensland’s....

UQ News

Exotic Italian research hitches a ride on UQ hypersonic scramjet
An exotic ceramic material that could one day be used to build hypersonic flight craft...


SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight gets the green light
It's all systems go for the experimental SCRAMSPACE scramjet flight, which passed its Critical Design Review...

UQ News

SCRAMSPACE - the next frontier
A talented new team of young scientists and engineers at The University of Queensland (UQ) is building...

The Flight Experiment

The Flight Experiment

The 1.8-metre-long spacecraft will be transported to an altitude of 340 kilometres by a two-stage rocket. After leaving the atmosphere, the scramjet vehicle will separate from the rocket, and orient itself for the re-entry with small thrusters.

During the return flight, the vehicle will be accelerated by gravity to Mach 8 – about 8600 kilometres per hour.

The part of the experiment important to the scientists takes place at an altitude of between 27 and 32 kilometres. This is where the scramjet's hydrogen fuel will be injected, and a wide range of instruments will analyse the combustion and measure thrust

Flight Team

Flight Team

  • Professor Russell Boyce 
  • Dr Sandy Tirtey
  • Dr Melrose Brown
  • Dr Michael Creagh
  • Igor Dimitrijevic
  • Amy Dedman
  • Brad Sharp
  • Adrian Pudsey
  • Dr Bianca Capra
  • Paul van Staden


Dr Melrose Brown (Lonewolf)

From: UQ, originally from Scotland

Role/responsibility: ‘Aerothermodynamics and Propulsion Engineer’ and ‘assistant scientific lead’. My role in the team involves using a range of numerical simulation tools to predict the aerodynamic performance of the vehicle and ensure that we will make all of the necessary measurements to achieve our scientific goals during the experimental window.

Brief background relevant to this project:

  • Graduated from the University of Glasgow with an M.Eng in Aeronautical engineering in 2005
  • Spent approx. 1 year at Agusta-Westland Helicopters in the UK
  • Started a PhD researching fundamental hypersonic flows at UNSW Canberra in September 2006. My research synthesized high fidelity computational fluid dynamics tools with experimental data to reveal new information about fundamental hypersonic flows. I also realized that leaving all of my warm clothes in Scotland was a tactical error during my first winter there!
  • Finished my PhD in 2010 and started work on scramspace at UQ.

Favourite space-related movie: Starship Troopers

I like this sort of research because: Taking our fundamental science to the sky will answer big questions that can help us shape the future of access-to-space and high-speed air transport systems.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: Biting my nails with the scramspace team during the last 10 seconds of countdown.

I think space exploration is . . . mankind’s greatest achievement.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . play buckhunter with Puff Leader whilst drinking beer.

A quote that inspires me: “…the funny thing about regret is that it’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t done.” – Orbital (sampling Sweet Loaf by Butthole Surfers)

Dr Michael Creagh (MC Control)

From: The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Role/responsibility: Reaction control system (for re-orientation of SCRAMSPACE), simulations, flight coding.

Brief background relevant to this project: PhD in Spinning Vehicle Guidance and Control

Favourite space-related movie: Aliens

I like this sort of research because: It offers continuous challenges

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: Seeing the various sub-systems working together and the relieved reactions of those responsible for the design.

I think space exploration is . . . the single most ambitious thing that humankind can strive for.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . Make various machines in my workshop.

A quote that inspires me: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…” - John F. Kennedy, 1962.

  • Dr Bianca Capra
Igor Dimitrijevic (P.L.)

From: The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Role/responsibility: Electrical and electronics engineer

Favourite space-related movie: Not space related, but favorite movie is π

I like this sort of research because: It gives me the freedom to design new systems from scratch.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: Seeing this payload launch and do what it was designed to do.

I think space exploration is . . . far away

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . be excellent

A quote that inspires me: “Quality is everyone’s responsibility," and “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.”

Amy Dedman

From: The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Role/responsibility: Project Officer – I organise the team, control our documents, scheduling and procurement.

Background: Even though I am a biologist by training, the past few years of my career have been spent getting out of the lab and pursuing project management style roles.

I like this sort of research because: It’s very hands-on and you can see real outcomes from the research and theory. Also, I enjoy learning something new every day at work.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: Having celebratory drinks after a successful launch!

I think space exploration is . . . Something we need to spend a lot more money and brain power on. In my lifetime, I want to see someone send a probe to Europa.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . Play a lot of computer games and cook amazing food.

Brad Sharp

From: The University of Queensland. Born and raised in Texas, USA, but now living in Brisbane, Australia.

Role/responsibility: I am responsible for development and testing of the telemetry frame definition.

Background: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering and I worked on the International Space Station at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. I have also worked on a variety of space-related defence projects.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: Seeing a successful launch and acquisition of experimental data.

I think space exploration is . . . extremely important!!  There are many technological innovations that result from space exploration that eventually turn into modern conveniences for the general public.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . spend time with my family.

A quote that inspires me:  “Always make the best of the situation.”  This quote is from my lovely wife, Jennifer, and it constantly inspires me to keep a positive outlook on things.

Adrian Pudsey

From: DSTO, Brisbane Australia

Role/responsibility: Safety Engineer, DSTO Representative

Brief background relevant to this project: As an aeronautical engineer in the Royal Australian Air Force, I have been working with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation since 2011. I joined the SCRAMSPACE team in early 2012 given my association with UQ as a PhD student and my position at DSTO.

Favourite space-related movie: Apollo 13

I like this sort of research because: it is at the cutting edge and has the potential to revolutionise the future of aerospace vehicles and access to space. It’s a small field where I have the opportunity to work with an amazing team and have an impact at an international level.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: The launch day, where I can play my part in successfully completing the project and pave the way for future flights.

I think space exploration is … exciting, amazing and a major challenge for mankind. Its something I dreamed of as a child, and something I now get to contribute to.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to … play guitar in a band.

A quote that inspires me: You do what you can for as long as you can, and when you finally can't, you do the next best thing. You back up but you don't give up.” - Chuck Yeager.

Dr Bianca Capra (Black Mamba)

From: UQ, Brisbane Australia

Role/responsibility: Aerothermal Engineer

Brief background relevant to this project: I have a Bachelor of Engineering with a Major in Mechanical and Space, and a PhD in Aerospace (Hypersonics) both from The University of Queensland. My PhD research focused on the experimental testing and measurement of aerthermal heating to hypersonic entry vehicles into both Earth and Titan atmospheres. This work gave me a strong foundation in the theoretical, analytical and experimental aspects of the challenges of hypersonic with a strong focus on heating, which has aided me in my role as Aerothermal Engineer on SCRAMSPACE.

Favourite space-related movie: Moon

I like this sort of research because: It is exciting and encourages creative thinking to provide workable solutions to achieving scramjet powered hypersonic flight. The multidisciplinary and international nature of this research also allows for strong international collaboration providing the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds/technical fields creating an engaging work environment.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to: The successful launch of SCRAMSPACE and watching the payload perform as per the design.

I think space exploration is . . . a truly fascinating branch of science that can teach us so much about our, and other worlds. It would be great to see more young Australians take up a career in space science/engineering. The engineering challenges to achieve space exploration are fun and exciting, requiring a team of people to succeed which adds to the enjoyment of this kind of work.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . experiment with new recipes in the kitchen; keep fit with platies and bike riding; and conquer the world of board games.

Paul van Staden

From: Brisbane, part-time UQ student

Role/responsibility: Responsible for the design, manufacture, assembly and testing of all structural/mechanical aspects of the Scramspace One flight experiment hardware and related ground support equipment.

Brief background: 1. Aerodynamicist for the Bureau for Systems Engineering  - South Africa. 2. F-111 Senior Mechanical Engineer at Boeing Defense Australia

Favourite space-related movie: Apollo 13

I like this sort of research because:

  • It will benefit the public at large at a future date.
  • When scientific requirements are considered as important as aerodynamic stability, when mechanical effort cannot be achieved with present technologies or you have only one opportunity to achieve all your objectives, having a “can do” attitude is not enough.

On this project, I’m most looking forward to:

  • Seeing if those “it cannot be done” designs will perform as required.

I think space exploration is . . . the breeding ground for innovation.

When I’m not working on scramjets, I like to . . . Finish writing a book

A quote that inspires me:  “Buck up, do your damnedest and fight.  It’s the plugging away that will win you the day.” - Robert Service. This quote was also used extensively by Sir Douglas Mawson when he needed to motivate himself to stay alive on his epic journey in Antarctica.

Program Partners

Program Partners












SCRAMSPACE media coverage

ABC 612 Breakfast with Spencer Howson, 17 September 2013

Scramjet testing from Norway, by Anne Debert

Australian scientists countdown final hours to scramjet launch, by Amanda Clark with David Curnow.

Crikey, 16th September 2013

Australia's Scramspace 1 rocket ready for its fiery fall to earth, by Ben Sandilands.

Aviation Week, blog post

Hypersonic countdown, by Guy Norris

Brisbane Times, 14th September 2013

Queensland scramjet aiming for Mach 8, by Cameron Atfield.

Gizmag, 9th and 13th September, 2013

Scramspace scramjet arrives in Norway for test flight, by David Szondy.

In conversation with Scramspace director Russell Boyce, by David Szondy.

Australian Flying, 12th September, 2013

Aussie scramjet set to go hypersonic

International Business Times, 5th September 2013

Australia building exciting technology: Scramjet team in Norway for SCRAMSPACE trial, by Sunny Peter.

ABC Brisbane, 8th July 2013

Sending 'Scramspace' out of this world, by Emma Sykes

Ten News, Monday 8th July 2013


ABC Catalyst






You can view and download high-res SCRAMSPACE images and footage from the following links: 



For any further queries regarding images, please contact:

Janelle Kirkland: j.kirkland@uq.edu.au or Matt Taylor m.taylor@uq.edu.au