Gold Coast space company on track for 2022 rocket launch after promising test

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A Gold Coast rocket company may soon send bushfire detection satellites into space, after revealing it was in talks with the Australian Space Agency and the Canadian government over the deployment of the technology.

Gilmour Space Technologies had its most successful test firing ever last week, putting the company on track to launch its first rocket later this year.

General manager Adam Gilmour said the final touches are expected to be given to the rocket between March and June and that it will be launched in the second half of the year.

Successful test shot

Mr Gilmour said the hybrid rocket motor test firing lasted around 75 seconds, meaning the team can now move on to the final qualifying phase of the engine.

“We really hope that our first vehicle will be ready to launch in the second half of this year and certainly on track to do so,” he said.

Adam Gilmour and his team hope to have rockets in space by 2022.(Provided: Gilmour Space Technologies)

The test, which took place at a site near Toowoomba, saw the rocket firing at full thrust of 110 kilonewtons, which Gilmour Space said was the most powerful in Australian history.

“We were almost where we wanted to go and qualified enough to be very happy with the test,” said Gilmour.

“It is a very powerful rocket engine and [tested for] a duration close to the flight time we will need to be able to go into space. For us it was an important test. “

The rocket should burn for about 90 to 100 seconds, according to Gilmour, who was confident the prototype was almost ready for launch.

A rocket test firing
Gilmour Space Technologies’ recent rocket test firing was a resounding success.(Provided: Gilmour Space Technologies)

He said the recent test firing was only halted after he feared a sensor would get too hot.

“But we later found out that the sensor was not properly integrated, so we could have stayed longer.

“So we actually think we’re not going to have to make a lot of changes to make this last longer.”

Bush fires, the Internet and Canadian discussions

Australian-made rockets are expected to be able to launch satellites and payloads into low Earth orbits and the like when completed.

Satellites could be used to detect bushfires, help fertilize crops and improve phone or internet coverage, Gilmour said.

gilmore space 3
The test generated enough force to lift four SUVs off the ground and was Australia’s largest rocket motor test.(Provided: Gilmour Space Technologies)

The company was in talks with the Canadian government and the Australian Space Agency over bushfire detection satellites, he said.

“You can detect a bushfire from space literally in seconds, compared to the minutes it takes now.

A man speaking alongside a nine-meter suborbital rocket
Adam Gilmour said they aimed to address a bottleneck in the satellite launch industry.(ABC News: Matt Eaton)

“We want to use other people’s satellites that give high speed internet access from space, which means you can go anywhere in Australia – anywhere outside of Australia on a boat at middle of the ocean and still be able to get high speed internet fast and very affordable.

“He’s another great game changer.”

Future planning

The company is currently seeking approvals for an orbital spaceport at Abbot Point, outside Bowen, in north Queensland.

Gilmour Space also plans to have an operational rocket by 2025 that can take humans into space.

“I am very excited about this year; it will be the culmination of many years of effort,” said Mr. Gilmour.

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