Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies plans to launch Australia’s first locally designed and built rocket from Australian soil this year, after kicking off 2022 with a successful test of its powerful Eris rocket engine.
This week Gilmour Space test fired the largest rocket engine to be developed by a local company for 75 seconds, producing 110 kilonewtons of thrust, enough to lift four SUVs off the ground.
The engine will be used in Gilmour’s Eris rockets, with the company aiming to launch the first of these into orbit by the end of the year, for the first time ever.
The test was a major demonstration of the company’s space and launch capabilities, Gilmour founder Adam Gilmour said.
“What you see here is the main engine that will power the first and second stages of our three-stage Eris rocket to space,” Mr Gilmour said.
“It was a successful test. We achieved our expected full thrust of 110 kilonewtons over the 75 seconds, and our team will be moving on to the final engine qualification campaign next month. It’s no small thing to say that we’ve developed Australia’s largest rocket engine, and that it would have significant flow-on benefits for the commercial, civil and defence space sectors.”
Gilmour is in the process of gaining approval from state and federal governments for a small orbital spaceport at the Abbot Point State Development Area in Bowen in Northern Queensland.
“With timely assessments and approvals from relevant authorities, we hope to be able to launch Australia’s first sovereign-made rocket from Queensland sometime in the latter half of 2022.”
Gilmour is planning to launch 300kg to 4000kg satellites and payloads into low-earth and other orbits over the next five years.
The company is also looking to help send an Australian-made rover to the moon later this decade. Late last year the Australian Space Agency revealed it had landed a deal with NASA to supply it with a semi-autonomous robot for the US agency’s future space missions.
The federal government is providing $50 million to Australian researchers and businesses to support the development of the rover.
Gilmour last year also landed a partnership with German outfit Exolaunch, with the two to sell a full suite of launch and deployment services to a growing number of small satellite operators.
It also signed a deal with US satellite communications firm SpaceLink, which is building an “information superhighway for the space economy” using communications technology between low-orbit satellites and the ground.
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