Update – The Links in the ThunderStruck Chain

dstoUpdate – Things Happen in Order

Defence Science & Technology Organisation

I am pleased to say that we have finally gotten permission to announce that we have support from the Australian Department of Defence through the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. This is huge and we knew this would be pivotal to the direction that we took. It has taken time to finalise the arrangements and I am pleased to say they are on board as supporters and we hope that this will go one step further, but we will wait until next week for the final outcome. Even getting them as supporters is huge. We have already been their guests and invited to Brisbane to discuss hypersonics. As part of the arrangements, the hypersonics team will be providing mentoring to Jason, answering any questions to make ThunderStruck a success.

groundcover - Landscape around Longreach, Queensland.Longreach, Queensland

This now means that we can finalise a site for the launch and I can say that we are looking at Longreach in Queensland. It is flat and there is nothing much around to cause issues to the launch or landing. It seems ideal. I have spoken with the Mayor of Longreach and all is good from our first chat. Of course there is a lot more to consider. The concerns of the locals, the weather, the logistics and so much more, but so far so good

Longreach_map

So where is Longreach? Let’s say it is a large town in Central Queensland. It is large by Central Queensland standards, but not big by coast Australian town comparisons. Once you see the area, you will understand. Let’s just say it is flat – very flat. Let’s also say that dust will be our biggest problem if the wind gets up.

The list below tells a story – these are the nearest big towns that most Australians know! A trip to McDonalds will cost you about $200 and day out of your life!

It will be a three day trip from Sydney with a large trailer or truck and we had better not forget anything. It will be a tough ride back to Sydney to pick up that essential part. The wet season looks like it will be very dry and that may be a problem. I suggested to the Mayor that we could hose down the launch area to stop the dust. His comment was “Where will ou get the water?” The sooner I get to town, the better. We really need to know what we are up against if we are to fly from Longreach. On a more positive note, we seem to be in a reasonable spot from a Civil Aviation Perspective. We need to be away from trunk routes.

Longreach city

Where Longreach is,5k
1181km north west of Brisbane1767km south west of Cairns

1854km east of Alice Springs

687km west of Rockhampton

416km to the nearest McDonalds

Airline Sponsorship / Support

So the next link in the chain is to get some help from an airline and we have something. We will finalise this shortly and announce the level of support. I need to get to Longreach and meet the various groups that would have an interest in the project. I need to learn about the mobile phone coverage and which carriers have the best coverage. We will be reporting on the support from carriers in another Update.

Once we visit Longreach, we can approach CASA (Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority).

CASA-logo-stacked

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)

CASA has said that we need to apply for Area Approval¬†¬† to conduct the flight. This will require us to pay for the work that CASA needs to do to get the approval sorted out. This may be a “yes” or “no” and we may need to do more work to finally get a “yes”. We will need funding for the CASA work. it is not likely to be as much as $5K or more, but it is an unknown and may be as small as $1.5K. We have to prepare for the cost and the answer – positive or negative. It may be that they require us to move the launch site slightly to keep it clear of airline trunk routes. Our request must also answer safety questions and out mitigation or avoidance systems. It is up to us to demonstrate how we will make this flight safe for other aircraft sharing the sky.

Other Groups

Finally, there are many organisations that would like to support our activities, but are concerned that they may be supporting a group that is not following CASA’s rules and regulations. They need to see that we are doing the right thing or it could damage their relationship with CASA. The help that we need today may take months to secure – especially with the holidays season around the corner.

Luckily we are not launching until April! We look forward to the next Update.

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