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Australian Prime Minister Inaugurates First Home-Grown Orbital Rocket

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Despite a significant wave of negative news impacting space technology companies globally, including bankruptcies, unsuccessful launches, and funding challenges, Australia’s own Gilmour Space stands out as a beacon of hope and progress. Demonstrating their resilience and determination, the company recently received a visit from Australia’s Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who unveiled and symbolically “launched” the Eris rocket at their manufacturing facility. This milestone marks a significant achievement for Australia, as the Eris rocket becomes the country’s first domestically developed orbital launch vehicle.

During his tour of Gilmour Space’s sovereign manufacturing facility, Prime Minister Albanese remarked, “This is a great Australian success story. A company that started eight years ago now employs 200 people at the forefront of innovation, science, new technologies, and job creation.” In a new tradition, the Prime Minister also signed the Australian rockets before their launches.

Having taken office as the 31st Prime Minister of Australia on May 23, 2022, Albanese expressed his support and enthusiasm for the company’s efforts, stating, “Let’s reach for the stars, Australia.”

Australia’s Prime Minister signs Eris rocket. Image courtesy of Gilmour Space

Gilmour Space has announced plans for the first test launch of the Eris rocket later this year from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in north Queensland. The company’s hybrid rocket engine technology, which combines solid and liquid propellants, is among the first of its kind globally. The Eris rocket is expected to deliver payloads of up to 305 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO), with the first commercial launch anticipated in 2024.

The Premier also emphasized that when the Eris orbital launch vehicle embarks on its space journeys, “it will carry the hopes and dreams of 300 companies,” roughly representing the number of companies involved in the Australian space industry. Considering that only 11 nations have successfully launched their own rockets into orbit, Australia is set to become the twelfth country to achieve this feat.

Gilmour Space’s Eris ribbon cutting and signing ceremony. Image courtesy of Gilmour Space

Designed, manufactured, and built on the country’s Gold Coast, the new rocket and its subsequent launch will help to build a significant dual-use capability for Australia. Gilmour Space’s accomplishments showcase its commitment to advancing space technology and contributing to Australia’s growing presence in the global space industry. Furthermore, the company is among many space tech firms leveraging 3D printing technologies, and received confirmation that Gilmore Space’s Eris rocket has 3D printed parts.

“At Gilmour Space, we use additively manufactured for some of our structure and parts, the most notable being our third-stage liquid rocket engine,” indicated Gilmour Space. “3D printing is great for manufacturing custom structures with complex geometries, for fast prototyping, and you can experiment with different materials in 3D printing as well to achieve specific properties. It’s a capability that we will be developing further for our space manufacturing.”

Last year, the Brisbane-based company, which was set up to build and launch lower-cost rockets and satellites to orbit, unveiled Phoenix, a new 3D printed liquid oxygen kerosene (LOx/Kero) engine that will power the third stage of its Eris rocket to orbit. In addition, it shared a video of a successful 190-second full mission duration test-fire of its new regeneratively-cooled liquid rocket engine.

Gilmour Space’s Eris ribbon cutting and signing ceremony. Image courtesy of Gilmour Space

Founded in 2013, Gilmour Space has grown to become one of Australia’s most prominent space companies, raising over $130 million to date and a workforce of over 140 employees. As one of the most active companies in Australia’s emerging commercial space sector, it was chosen to lead the Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN), a national network with a mission to advance local space manufacturing and future launches, which recently received an AU $52 million ($39 million) government grant to create, commercialize and finally launch space technology on local soil.

Gilmour Space’s CEO, Adam Gilmour, expressed excitement about the Prime Minister’s visit and emphasized the importance of Australia having its own sovereign launch and satellite technologies, stating that it is essential “if we are serious about growing our capabilities in defense, communications, and advanced manufacturing.” Gilmour Space continues to receive support from both the State and Federal governments, recognizing their innovation, high-tech job creation, and manufacturing achievements.

In conclusion, Prime Minister Albanese affirmed that “Australia can compete with the rest of the world,” urging strong support for businesses like Gilmour Space. The company’s success represents a true Australian manufacturing triumph, and the nation aims to foster more such success stories in the future.

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