Yes, really. It may seem an unlikely setting, but Brisbane was the place where Australia’s space industry blasted off. Sort of.
It’s a little-known fact that the first Australian rocket was launched from the middle of the Brisbane River on 4 December, 1934, thanks to the vision of Alan H Young, president and founder of the Queensland Air Mail Society.
Young was not exactly a major player in the space race, however, because the aim of Young’s experiment was far more modest than to achieve orbit — it was to dispatch a mail-carrying rocket from a ship, the Canonbar, to the river bank at Pinkenba. The unnamed rocket contained hundreds of empty envelopes, and an overprinted stamp declaring this to be the first Australian rocket flight.
The commemorative stamp was, perhaps, a little premature — on leaving the ship, the rocket hit a pile on the river bank and the container fell into the water. Luckily, the rocket and its precious cargo were not lost to the murky depths — they were salvaged by the Canonbar’s captain, who had secured a long line to the rocket.
Let’s see the boys at Houston top that for ingenuity.