Joining forces to reach for the stars
A space revolution is underway in Queensland with university and private technology developers joining forces to reach for the stars.
Gilmour Space Technologies is developing new capabilities for launching small satellites into space. Founded by brothers Adam and James Gilmour in 2013, this Queensland-based startup is now one of Australia’s leading space companies, pioneering innovative hybrid propulsion technologies with the goal of providing lower cost access to space.
According to Adam Gilmour (Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gilmour Space), “We are designing, developing and building a launch vehicle to take small satellites into space, and we are doing this in Australia. It has always been incredibly difficult and expensive to send anything into space, but thanks to the last decade of technology advancements, satellites that used to be the size of a fridge can now be made in the size of a microwave, with perhaps the same or better capability.
“This rapid technology advancement caught the industry by surprise. Many of the major aerospace companies have been building bigger and bigger rockets, and we saw the opportunity to provide smaller launch vehicles to transport this new generation of smaller satellites to space,” said Adam.
Embedding Speed & Agility in Manufacturing
“There is a lot of different technologies involved in building a rocket. It takes a long time to design, build, and manufacture all the components on your own, and we’ve been very pleasantly surprised to find adjunct industries that utilise similar or adaptable technologies for our rockets,” said Adam.
“To date, we’ve approached and partnered with several of such companies where we supply the requisite designs and they undertake parts of the manufacturing process on our behalf. These companies have decades of experience, which fast-tracks the process; and they’ve all ‘seen the movie before’, so to speak.”
Local Partnership is Encouraging the Next Generation of Space Scientists
In addition to working with other industry players, Gilmour Space Technologies recently signed a strategic agreement with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) to collaborate on advanced rocket technology research, testing and STEM initiatives.
“We have some exciting projects in the pipeline with USQ,” said James Gilmour (Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Gilmour Space Technologies). “Our initial focus for this Research Partnership will be to develop space-grade composite capabilities and to explore new rocket test facilities in Queensland.”
Adam is equally excited about the new partnership. “USQ has strong capabilities in composite technology. We are using composites for the structure of our vehicle – tanks, the fuselage, and many other parts of the rocket. So, we will be working with the university throughout the design and testing phases of these components. We will also work with USQ to establish rocket engine test facilities in Toowoomba.”
Gilmour Space and USQ are no stranger to collaboration in space, having engaged with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), among others, on separate projects over the years. However, it is notable that this local partnership will result in innovative space research and development activities in Queensland.
USQ and Gilmour Space, along with other national and international partners, are developing STEM related activities to encourage and train the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
“We believe it’s important to provide more pathways for bright young minds to get involved locally in the global space industry without having to leave the country,” said James. “And we want to play our part in building this future-ready industry for Queensland and Australia.”
“We’re developing new propulsion technology that we think will produce world-beating rocket launch vehicles and we’re hiring aggressively—both Australian and international rocket engineers, and university graduates. We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how collaborative organisations in Australia are, and how enthusiastic they are to help build our rockets,” said Adam.