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Jetstar leaves behind Monash University students’ $100,000 rocket entered in US competition

Uni students’ dreams of entering US tech competition are all but ruined after Jetstar ‘misplaced’ their $100,000 rocket design

  • Melbourne uni students land in US, but their $100,000 rocket is left behind in Sydney
  • Scramble to get rocket to New Mexico to participate in prestigious competition
  • Days of frenetic interaction and media investigations with Jetstar led to it being found
  • Students now hope the rocket will arrive just in time to launch

Jetstar baggage handling threatened ‘don’t start’ for a group of Melbourne university students when they arrived in the US, ready to take part in a rocketry competition, only to find theirs had been abandoned in Sydney.

After six frenetic days of desperate efforts to locate and transport the rocket, they now expect it to arrive just in time to participate in the Spaceport America’s Cup being held in New Mexico.

To get ready for the competition, it took students from Monash University’s High Powered Rocket team two years and spent $100,000 on the rocket, which can reach a height of 9,144 meters.

Monash University's High Powered Rocket team poses at Sydney airport with the $100,000 rocket they designed to compete in an American competition, but did not put Jetstar on their flight

Monash University’s High Powered Rocket team poses at Sydney airport with the $100,000 rocket they designed to compete in an American competition, but did not put Jetstar on their flight

They have been promised that the missile is on its way from San Francisco after they were able to claim it from US Customs, who took possession of the missile because it had traveled unaccompanied.

The students only became aware that their precious cargo had not accompanied them when they were left empty-handed at the Honolulu baggage claim on June 17 during what was a massive 50-hour journey to the US.

The rocket, nicknamed Aether, took two years to develop, cost $100,000 and can reach a height of nearly 10,000 meters.

The rocket, nicknamed Aether, took two years to develop, cost $100,000 and can reach a height of nearly 10,000 meters.

On Tuesday, student team leader Isaac Sims called New Mexico 2GB radio host Ben Fordham to say their competitive outlook was in jeopardy because Jetstar hadn’t been in touch about the lost missile.

“As far as we know, the missile is in Sydney,” Mr Sims said.

Fordham said that when Qantas-owned Jetstar was contacted, they were unaware that the missile was missing.

Despite fears that they would not be able to enter the competition, the students managed to keep their sense of humor about their predicament by releasing this 'wanted' poster

Despite fears that they would not be able to enter the competition, the students managed to keep their sense of humor about their predicament by releasing this ‘wanted’ poster

The missile was packed in a large plywood box placed in the oversized baggage claim area.

Despite growing concerns that the rocket would not arrive before Thursday’s scheduled launch, the students managed to maintain their sense of humor.

They posted a black and white “wanted” poster for a “Missing Missile – Responds to Aether’s Name” on Facebook.

Under a photo of the team posing with the boxed rocket, the poster said the reward for bringing it back was “Maxibons, a lot of them.”

After media scrutiny, Jetstar managed to locate the missing rocket and it's clear it's finally on its way to the students still hoping to launch it into the competition.

After media scrutiny, Jetstar managed to locate the missing rocket and it’s clear it’s finally on its way to the students still hoping to launch it into the competition.

Jetstar is said to have located the missile early Tuesday morning and placed it on a flight to the US.

“Once we became aware, our teams worked hard to locate the missile and put it on its first flight as quickly as possible to ensure it would reach the US on Tuesday morning,” a Jetstar spokesperson said. Yahoo News

There was another problem when US Customs discovered an unaccompanied missile and required a claim that could potentially take up to 24 hours to process.

However, the rocket is finally on its way from San Francisco to New Mexico.

A spokesperson for the team said they expected it “within the hour.”

Qantas and Jetstar have faced claims that outsourcing baggage handling has led to chaos.

The Transport Workers Union sued Qantas in late 2020, when it was ruled that the airline had illegally fired nearly 2,000 baggage handlers, cleaners and ground staff before outsourcing their work to foreign suppliers, including Swissport.

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