Australian rocket company achieves 70 kN thrust in world's largest single-port hybrid engine test

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"We are at the crossroads in commercial space with new small launch vehicles, and it’s great to see Gilmour Space becoming a serious new player in the global small launch market.” - Professor Dava Newman, MIT Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, and ex-Deputy Administrator of NASA


AUSTRALIA, March 6, 2018 – Meet G-70. This orbital-class rocket engine, developed by Australia and Singapore-based Gilmour Space Technologies (www.gspacetech.com), has successfully achieved 70,000 newtons (70 kilonewtons or 15,700 pounds-force) of thrust in what could be the world’s largest successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.


“These results prove that we have the core technology needed to enable low-cost small satellite launches to space,” said its CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour. The company’s mission: to carry payloads weighing up to 400 kg to low earth orbit (LEO) from 2020.


Unlike the vast majority of commercial rockets today, which use either solid- or liquid-fuelled engines, Gilmour Space is pioneering new hybrid-engine rockets that combine a liquid oxidiser with a proprietary multi-material 3D printed solid fuel. Indeed, the Queensland-based company first made headlines in 2016 when it successfully test launched a subscale rocket to an altitude of 5km using its 3D printed rocket fuel.


“We chose hybrid rockets because they’re simpler, cheaper, environmentally greener and a lot less explosive than solid or liquid rockets,” said Mr Gilmour. “But hybrids have been notoriously difficult to scale up, resulting in a relatively poor engine efficiency and performance,” he added. Until now.


“With this and our earlier tests, Gilmour Space has demonstrated capability in what could be the largest (46 cm diameter) successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.” Single port engines are believed to be the most fuel-efficient design for hybrid rockets.


Other demonstrated results:

  • Peak thrust of 70 kN (15,700 pounds), exceeding the performance of many small launch competitors

  • High level of thrust stability

  • Ability to throttle from 10% to 100%

“This G-70 engine will be powering our next rocket to the edge of space in the second quarter of 2018, subject to launch approvals in Australia,” said Mr Gilmour.


Enabling New Space


“We are at the crossroads in commercial space with new small launch vehicles, and it’s great to see Gilmour Space becoming a serious new player in the global small launch market,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics, and former Deputy Administrator of NASA, Professor Dava Newman.

“I congratulate Adam and his team for their incredible achievements so far, and look forward to seeing more of such innovative engineering from this promising young rocket company.”

Last month, Gilmour Space announced it had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to collaborate on various space research and technology development initiatives. This news was warmly welcomed by Australia’s Minister for Defence Industry, Hon Christopher Pyne MP, who reiterated the Government’s vision in advancing Australia’s space capabilities.


“It’s been assumed for decades that Australia can’t compete in the launch market, but Gilmour Space is showing that this isn’t true. It’s great to see successful technology being brought together with a sound knowledge of how the space market operates,” said Dr Alice Gorman, an internationally-recognised space archeologist and Senior Lecturer at Flinders University. “With an Australian space agency on the way, it’s even more significant to demonstrate that what Australia can do in space is only limited by imagination.”


“What Gilmour Space is doing right now is just amazing. Their dedicated, low cost launch capability will be critical for companies like Fleet to secure and maintain our competitiveness in space,” said Flavia Tata Nardini, CEO & Co-Founder of South Australia-based Fleet Space Technologies, which is working on globally connecting the Internet of Things using small low-cost satellites.


Interested in low-cost launches? Bookings for Gilmour Space’s commercial launches from 2020 will be open the second half of this year. Register your interest here.


Game on.

ABOUT US


Gilmour Space Technologies is an Australia and Singapore-based rocket company that is developing low-cost launch vehicles for the small satellite/payload market.


Key milestones since beginning its rocket program in 2015:

  • June 2016: Gilmour Space first made headlines when it successfully flew the countries' first privately developed hybrid rocket to an altitude of 5 Km using proprietary 3D printed fuel (reportedly a world-first demonstration).

  • June 2017: It raised AUD 5 million (USD 3.7 million) in Series-A funding from venture capital firms Blackbird Ventures and 500 Startups, among others. Gilmour Space has also been awarded various R&D grants in Singapore and Australia.

  • August 2017: Successfully ground tested a high-impulse Cubesat Propulsion System, which could potentially power a 1U cubesat to the orbit of the Moon or Mars.

  • January 2018: Announced results of its first full-scale orbital engine test in December, which generated 45 kN in a low-pressure test fire.

  • February 2018: Signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to collaborate on various space research and technology development initiatives.

  • March 2018: 70 kN of thrust (15,700 lbs) generated in what could be the world's largest successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.

Considered one of the leading space startups in Australia and Singapore, Gilmour Space is scaling up to launch their first rockets to suborbital space in 2018, and to LEO in 2020.


MEDIA CONTACTS


Michelle Gilmour

Director, Marketing & Communications

Email: michelle@gilmourspacecorp.com


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