How Gilmour Space Technologies is Leading the Way For Hybrid Rockets
Space travel has caught the fancy of young entrepreneurs over the last few years. Billionaires like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are taking efforts to make space exploration affordable and commercial.
Singapore and Australia-based Gilmour Space Technologies have joined the league of startups that are leading the race to space.
The startup was founded in Singapore in 2012 to design and build spacecraft replicas and simulators for their sister company, Gilmour Space Corporation, which owns and operates Australia's first Spaceflight Academy in the Gold Coast.
Pushing Forward the Australian Space Industry
The company has recently raised US$13.71 million (19 million Australian Dollars) Series B investment round to scale-up and launch its first commercial hybrid rocket to space in 2020. The investment was led by top-tier venture capital firms in Australia: Main Sequence Ventures, which manages Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) innovation fund; and Blackbird Ventures, which led Gilmour Space’s AUD 5 million Series A round in May last year.
Other investors include US-based 500 Startups, who increased their stake from the Series A round; as well as new venture capital, family-office and private investors.
Martin Duursma, a partner at Sydney-based Main Sequence Ventures, believes Gilmour Space is a great example of the rise of innovation in the Australian space industry.
"No longer is Australia only focussing on so-called downstream applications, but now with Gilmour will also have the capability of launching satellites for both commercial and national benefit. We are excited to support the company in its growth in Australia and beyond,” he said.
Startups Shaping the Satellite Revolution
Adam Gilmour, CEO and Founder, Gilmour Space Technologies, feels the small satellite revolution is gaining momentum globally, with thousands of small satellites slated to launch into low-Earth orbits (LEO) over the next five years.
However, he also cautioned that the new players will be challenged by high launch costs and limited launch opportunities.
To address this bottleneck, "Gilmour Space is developing a new breed of hybrid rockets that will offer dedicated LEO launches to small satellite customers at very competitive prices."
First Commercial Hybrid Rocket to Orbit
For Gilmour, the fresh round of investment will give the startup a safe runway to build and launch the first commercial hybrid rocket to orbit in 2020.
"I believe our progress so far puts us at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of six, well ahead of most small launch competitors globally. The fact that we've come this far on relatively little funding is also a testament to our innovative engineering and low-cost manufacturing capability," he added.
Additionally, the company plans to launch Eris-100 in 2020, a three-stage commercial vehicle capable of launching 100 kilograms to LEO; followed by Eris-400 in 2021, a clustered-engine vehicle for payloads of up to 400 kilograms.