Science for defence, aviation and space

Artist impression of robotic terrain detection for autonomous navigation. Photo credit: Designed by QUT from an original image by Tracey Dee Photography via Getty Images.

  • 51,000 defence, aviation and space publications
  • Cited 3.7 million times global average for Earth observation
  • Over 2,000 space industry employees
  • AU$760 million per year in core space industry services

Queensland is an Asia-Pacific defence, aviation and space research and industry hub, with a reputation for excellence in:

  • unmanned airborne vehicle R&D facilities
  • advanced maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities and support services
  • world-class education, training and simulation activities
  • leading-edge logistics

Queensland has world-leading capability in hypersonics, robotics and automation, Earth observation, niche manufacturing including advanced composite materials, and new launch technologies. These research strengths underpin the state’s defence, aviation and space industries.

Queensland researchers published nearly 52,000 publications in defence, aviation and space topics between 2017-2021 and Queensland’s research into Earth observation were cited 3 times more than the global average (citation rate of attributable publications). Predominant research areas across defence, aviation and space include quantum; deployable sensor systems; advanced materials manufacturing; information systems, big data analytics and machine learning; robotics and autonomous systems; human factors; hypersonics; rocket fuel development; astrophysics, and disaster management and national resilience.

Queensland is a leader in unmanned aircraft systems, with the world-class Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre based in Brisbane. Queensland also has strong capabilities in the future of helicopter design and the integration of electronic systems into aerospace applications.

Queensland has several leading institutes and centres and over 40 research organisations involved in defence, aviation and space research.

Leading defence, aviation and space research centres

All defence, aviation and space research centres

Industry-research collaboration and commercialisation

Contact the commercial partnership offices of Queensland universities and research institutes for details of their research-industry collaboration or investment opportunities.

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Example of how Queensland science has driven industry development Designed by DES with consent of all parties shown.

Support for defence, aviation and space in Queensland


The Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) is a university-led partnership that facilitates and strengthens connections and collaborations between Queensland universities, government and the wider Defence industry to rapidly translate ideas into reality.

Rheinmetall Defence Australia launched its first Australian research and technology program, with their Australian, German and Canadian development teams working with QUT Centre for Robotics, Defence Science and Technology (DST), CSIRO’s Data61 and RMIT University.

Photo of tactical officer on performance management equipment.Open larger image

Tactical officer on performance management equipment.

Photo credit: © Bond University Tactical Research Unit.

Through their extensive network of researchers, the Griffith University Defence Network co-creates solutions for defence needs, and gives the Department of Defence and Defence Industry unprecedented access to world-class expertise, capability and know-how spanning areas as diverse as advanced technologies and social marketing.

Boeing Defence Australia support Queensland’s growing defence, aviation and aerospace needs through their Boeing Research and Technology Australia Centre at The University of Queensland St Lucia campus. The centre is a highly collaborative advanced research and development unit that brings together Boeing and UQ researchers to collaborate on the next great advances in defence, aviation and aerospace technologies including highly integrated large scale composite structures, platform maintenance technologies, light robotics and automation for aircraft manufacturing, autonomous systems supporting the commercial deployment of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), wideband communications, human factors and sensing to support high end defence platforms and services.


Queensland's aviation and aerospace industry comprises more than 300 enterprises that range in size from global corporations to small and medium-sized businesses. These enterprises represent 31% of Australia's total number of aviation and aerospace firms, making Queensland a major hub for the industry in the Asia-Pacific region. Queensland is home to Australia’s launch vehicle and aviation manufacturing sectors and Brisbane is home to Boeing’s largest aircraft spare parts and chemical distribution centre in the Asia Pacific region as well as Virgin Australia’s head office located in South Brisbane.

Queensland’s Attracting Aviation Investment Fund, jointly funded by the Queensland Government and industry, has invested AUD $200 million to support the growth of service frequency, capacity and development of new international aviation routes into Queensland’s airports


Australia has a strong and dynamic space sector that is supported by the Australian Space Agency and the Advancing Space - Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019–2028 that provides a long‑term framework for the space industry. Australia’s most advanced launch vehicle developers – Gilmour Space Technologies, Black Sky Aerospace and Hypersonix – are based in Queensland and are supported by Queensland’s Space Strategy which builds on the Queensland Aerospace 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan. The key priorities of these plans are to strengthen Queensland’s existing capabilities to support research into space-related topics and enhance human capability by promoting clear career pathways into the space industry. The Bowen Orbital Spaceport (being constructed during 2022) will be Australia’s first launch site for affordable and reliable low earth orbit small satellites.

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Fabian Zander at the Institute of Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences undertaking hypersonic research.

UQ and UniSQ excel in launch systems research, testing and advanced composites. Research at the Centre for Advanced Materials Processing and Manufacturing is developing new combinations of metals, polymers, ceramics and composites and the Centre for Hypersonics is a world-leader in hypersonic technology and reusable rocket research with a hypersonic wind tunnel.

The Institute of Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences that includes Centre for Future Materials has nationally leading applied research and commercial work in composites and hypersonics and hosts a supersonic and hypersonic wind tunnel

Queensland supports a network of regional Innovation Centres and vibrant QiHub innovation community. The university-industry relationships with these hubs and centres are shown in the Strategic Visualisation Tool.

Talent pipeline for defence, aviation and space

Queensland’s universities and industry are at the forefront of defence, aviation and space research and technology development. All of Queensland’s universities offer under and post graduate courses in aviation including aviation management, flight operations, aviation systems and human factors; engineering; and astronomy and space sciences.

The Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowship awarded by the Queensland government supports researchers partnering with industry including defence to complete original research that will have a positive impact for Queensland.

UniSQ is Australia's only university with both the Boeing 737 and A320 flight simulators accessible to students. Additionally, UniSQ, Griffith University and CQUniversity have partnered with Qantas to provide high-achieving students with an opportunity to benefit from superior industry experience via the Qantas Group Future Pilot Program with mentoring from experienced Qantas pilots.

The Griffith University Memorandum of Understanding with Gilmour Space Technologies will see the development of locally developed low Earth orbit prototype satellites (first scheduled launch in 2023).

UniSQ are committed to Australia’s burgeoning space industry. With a A$180 million budget, UniSQ leads the Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications, and Hypersonics (iLAuNCH) program in collaboration with 23 industry organisations and two other universities that is building Australia’s space capability. The program will grow Australia’s commercially viable civil rockets, rocket test and launch facilities, rapid satellite manufacturing, communication technologies and integrated sensing systems.

TAFE Queensland has partnered with Rheinmetall Defence Australia to deliver a growing workforce of welders that meets international welding standards. TAFE Queensland also offer courses to develop specific skills in specialised aviation and maritime operations and technology.

Aviation Australia provides world-class training for aircraft maintenance engineering, cabin crew, pilot and remote piloting at campuses near the Brisbane International Airport and in Cairns. The Brisbane campus features the state-of-the-art Technical Training Centre and Flight Safety Training Centre and is also home to a Boeing 737 Flight Simulator.

Queensland high school student can be industry-ready under Gateway to Industry Schools program for Aerospace that is hosted by Brisbane-based Aviation Australia. This is long-term development program where schools are supported to engage and partner with aerospace industries, tertiary education and training providers to inspire students to consider a skilled, diverse, and sustainable career or pathway into to the aerospace industry.

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Strategic visualisation tool

Queensland’s next generation aerospace, defence, and transport technologies industry