Northrop Grumman Corporation and Australian rocket startup Gilmour Space have signed a memorandum of understanding, with the aerospace giant to join a previously-announced and Gilmour-led CRC-P project to build composite cryotanks for space.
Northrop Grumman Australia chief executive Chris Deeble said his company “aims to lead industry support in developing Australian sovereign space capabilities to help meet the needs of defence and realise the Australian Space Agency vision.
“Our approach is consistent with the Australian government’s recently announced Modern Manufacturing Strategy, to make space hardware in Australia while securing sovereign capabilities in priority areas that includes defence and space.”
The CRC-P project was announced early this year and will develop filament-wound fibre composite tanks, delivering up to 30 per cent weight savings. It is budgeted at $12 million, with a $3 million grant.
These tanks will be up to two metres in diameter and carry liquid oxygen as a fuel oxidiser — according to a statement on the project at the time — which will combine with the company’s 3D printed rocket fuel. The cryotank must hold liquid chilled to 183 degrees celsius (or below).
The project also involves Griffith University and Etamax Engineering and will see the tanks trialled in rocket flights.
“We look forward to working with Northrop Grumman as we work to launch our first commercial payloads to orbit in 2022,” said Gilmour co-founder and chief executive Adam Gilmour.
“With the right support, we will see innovative, well capitalised, and highly capable Australian space companies like Gilmour Space emerge as future Australian space primes.
Gilmour’s first payload customer in 2022 will be Space Machines Company, it was announced in September.