21 February 2024

Gilmour Space secures additional funding as it counts down to first Australian-designed rocket launch

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Gilmour Space Eris

Gilmour Space’s first Eris rocket assembled at the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in North Queensland. Photo: Gilmour Space.

Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space has secured an additional $55 million in investment funding just weeks before it is scheduled to launch the first Australian-designed and manufactured rocket into space.

Founded by brothers Adam and James Gilmour, the company has been steadily building up its technical staff, industry suppliers, and design and manufacturing capabilities since 2015. The company now employs more than 200 people, and is aiming to put on an additional 100 by 2027.

The latest funding comes from venture-capitalists Blackbird and Main Sequence, and Australian superannuation funds HostPlus and HESTA, and will ensure the capital needed to manufacture, test and launch Gilmour’s Eris rockets to orbit.

This follows investments in 2023 by the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) and the Queensland Venture Capital Development Fund (QVCDF).

The company has built a launch site at the Bowen Orbital Spaceport, northwest of the Whitsundays in North Queensland. Being north of the Tropic of Capricorn, the site is ideal for placing satellite payloads into an equatorial orbit.

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The three-stage Eris rocket weighs 30 tonnes and is 25 metres long. The first Eris has been assembled and tested on site, and Gilmour is now waiting on approvals from the Australian Space Agency (ASA) before it commences the countdown to its first launch, currently expected for some time in April.

But before that, a rehearsal launch where the entire countdown is duplicated right up to igniting the main engine is expected to be conducted in March.

“If that goes well then we’re ready for launch,” CEO Adam Gilmour told media recently.

“The only thing we’re waiting on is approvals from the Australian Space Agency which we think are coming soon.

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“Our team is fortunate to be backed by high-calibre investors whose unwavering support has led to the development of Australia’s first orbital rocket, built by an Australian-owned company, and supported by a local space supply chain,” he added.

“This investment will allow us to enhance Australia’s sovereign space and defence capabilities, onshore more manufacturing, and to hire and upskill even more Queenslanders.

“Our vision is for rockets made and launched in Queensland, carrying satellites and other payloads to space for our global customers, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of QIC in helping us realise that vision.

“Our company continues to champion the growth of a sustainable and commercial space industry with the federal and state governments, Australian Space Agency (ASA), Defence, and other space industry players. We engage actively with schools, universities and the public on space and STEM.”

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