Composite-wound rocket tanks
Project description and overview:
Gilmour Space Technologies is developing a hybrid propulsion launch vehicle to deliver payloads of up to 250 kg into Low Earth Orbits (LEOs). Their most recent suborbital prototype was constructed primarily using aluminium tank components. However, whilst aluminium is cheaper, it does result in a heavier launch vehicle. Gilmour anticipates that by using carbon fibre composite tanks for their three-stage rocket, they would be able to achieve a lower weight mass for their launch vehicle which will be needed for a globally competitive LEO orbital launch vehicle.
Typical launch prices quoted by rocket launch companies are around $45,000 per kg. The effect of the weight savings would translate into an increased revenue potential of $945,000 per launch for Gilmour and conversely, it will make them more competitive by a similar amount.
The composite tanks will be supplied by CST Aero using their filament winding process. This involves an automated process of wrapping resin impregnated filaments (rovings or tows) in a geometric pattern over a rotating male mandrel. The component is then cured under high pressure and temperature.
This project will enable Gilmour Space in Australia to design, develop, test and produce high-quality carbon fibre wound rocket propellant tanks for their hybrid propulsion motor systems. It is a capability that would enable this leading rocket company to manufacture and export lightweight, price-competitive rockets for customers around the world as well as launching rockets in Australia.
- Increased collaboration with other manufacturers
- Increased spending on R&D
- Increased collaboration with research institutions
- Larger geographical reach
- Reshoring of rocket tank manufacturing
- Newer equipment
- Gilmour forecasts that the business of launching small LEO satellites to space using their launch vehicles could bring in revenues of over $100 million by 2025.
CST Aero estimate that they will need to appoint the following additional skilled staff:
- An engineer to learn and apply Cadwind software
- A semi-skilled production assistant
Gilmour estimate that deployment of their tank manufacturing facility will see the appointment of the following skilled staff:
- Two production engineers
- Five semi-skilled production assistants
Government Funds: $224,500 | Industry: $224,500 | In-Kind: $25,000