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Australian first spacecraft launch for Lot Fourteen startup

17 September 2020

The test launch of a rocket built by Gilmour Space.

A South Australian startup, Space Machines Company (SMC) will next year launch a 35-kilogram spacecraft to orbit, the largest payload announced to date by an Australian space company.

SMC has become the first Australian customer for the maiden launch by Gilmour Space Technologies of its Eris rocket in 2022.

Gilmour Space co-founder and chief executive Adam Gilmour said it could become the first Australian payload to be launched to orbit on an Australian rocket, from an Australian launch site.

Space Machines Company is a member of the Stone & Chalk startup hub, powered by FIXE (Future Industries eXchange for Entrepreneurship) at Lot Fourteen global innovation precinct.

Space is one of the high-value, high-growth focus sectors at the precinct, which is also home to the Australian Space Agency, the SmartSat CRC and other space industry companies including Inovor Technologies, Myriota, Neumann Space, and SITAEL Australia.

SMC is developing transportation capabilities to cost-effectively insert small satellites into desired low earth orbits, geostationary earth orbits (and Cis-Lunar (Moon) orbits.

"We are delighted to be supporting Gilmour’s first commercial flight and being part of this important milestone in the development of Australia's space industry,” said SMC co-founder and chief executive Rajat Kulshrestha.

“At 35 kg, this will be one of the largest spacecraft developed and tested by an Australian space company.”

Gilmour Space is a Queensland-based company that is building new hybrid rockets to meet the world’s growing demand for small rocket launches.

Mr Gilmour said despite being a late entrant into the commercial space market, Australia’s pace of growth had accelerated in recent years with the emergence of smaller, more agile commercial players looking to tap into the $500 billion-a-year global space economy.

“Startups like SMC are gearing up to launch their innovative new products and services to market. But getting to space is still a big challenge for small-payload customers, particularly if they need access to specific orbits or inclinations,” Mr Gilmour said.

To meet this global demand, Gilmour’s first Eris rockets will be launching payloads up to 305 kg into low earth orbits, 215 kg into 500 kilometre sun synchronous orbits or 305 kg into 500 km equatorial orbits.

“We’ve closed two commercial launch contracts in the last few months, and are targeting 12 rockets a year by 2025," he added. "It's clear to us that the Australian space industry is ready for launch.”

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