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Interview – Sunrise, Channel 7

4 October 2019

Natalie Barr

Subject: Hypersonic technology and Australia-UK Space Bridge


Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews was interviewed on Sunrise.

Natalie Barr: Well imagine flying from Australia to London in four hours. Hypersonic technology is set to change the way we travel. It will allow aircraft to reach speeds of more than 6000 kilometres an hour which is five times the speed of sound.  Flights could be taking off as soon as 2030 with the Australian Space Agency forming an alliance with the UK to share space technology, including a planned rocket-powered plane. The Australian Space Agency spokesperson is Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews and she joins us now. Morning to you.

Karen Andrews: Good morning.

Natalie Barr: This sounds unbelievable. Tell us how does it work and just how advanced is this technology?

Karen Andrews: Well it’s possible that we will be able to fly from Sydney to London in four hours at some time in the future. It's new technology. It’s called- well it’s known as air-breathing engines. So what that means is that our take-off speeds are going to be able to hit the Mach 5.5, which as you said, is over 6000 km an hour; it’s close to 2 km a second which is an amazing speed. So that’s going to clearly shorten the time that it takes to get from Sydney to London. Now, if you look at the last hundred years of how far we've come, a hundred years ago, it took the best part of a month to get from Sydney to London. We’re now at the stage where we've got direct flights from Perth through to London of about 17 hours. So we are looking at, in the foreseeable future, shortening that time with this new technology down to about four hours from Sydney to London which would just be fabulous.

Natalie Barr: So what role will Australia play and will we see - are we talking 2030? Is that realistic?

Karen Andrews: Look, 2030 is probably realistic. Here in Australia, we do already have world leading expertise in hypersonics. The University of Queensland has already established a centre for hypersonics. They’re looking at the air-breathing engines. What the partnership now between the UK and the Australian Space Agency means is that there’s going to be greater connectivity, there’s going to be greater opportunities for us to work on technologies such as these air-breathing engines. So I want to make sure that Australia is not only a key part of building this technology, but being part of the supply chain as well.

Natalie Barr: Yeah. How amazing would that be? You’d only get to watch one movie. Thank you, Karen.