Letter from the CEO
It's been a busy start of the year for our company Gilmour Space Technologies as we closed our Series A funding and formally began the design and development of our orbital launch vehicle.
Last month, Gilmour Space Tech raised A$5 million in Series A funding, led by Australia's Blackbird Ventures with some co-investment by US-based 500 Startups. The news followed the successful launch in June last year of our hybrid-engine test rocket using proprietary 3D printed fuel.
We have since expanded our rocket development team - from just three engineers in 2015, to a talented team of 20 across Australia and Singapore; and we are looking to increase headcount further by the end of this year.
The next 12 months will see us scaling up on our low cost rocket technology and testing, to reach to an altitude of 30-50 km by yearend and to suborbital space by mid next year. A larger engine would be used in our orbital launch vehicle, Eris.
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The 'tipping point' for space
As I look out into the space industry today, I am very encouraged to see momentum growing strongly, particularly in the small satellite sector.
A lot of people have talked about a “tipping point” for launch costs - that is, when the cost of sending something to space is low enough to encourage a lot more companies to do so. Certainly, launch costs for large payloads have dropped dramatically in the last 10 years - driven mainly by the emergence of SpaceX, which priced its rockets at half that of incumbent launch providers.
In comparison, small satellite launches are a much newer market. We haven’t yet seen a dramatic price drop, but as more small launch operators - like Gilmour Space - emerge over the next few years, prices will come down (in dollars per KG to orbit).
Bottom line: Space need not be expensive. It is no longer the sole domain of large aerospace companies working on 'cost plus' government contracts worth billions of dollars. And despite SpaceX's success in lowering the cost of accessing space, it cannot do it alone.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is another trailblazer which launched a decent-sized mission to Mars' orbit a few year ago for less than US$100 million dollars. (Before that, Mars missions cost between $500 million to over $1 billion.) With the entry of small launchers, I believe the cost of future space exploration missions could fall even further to a few tens of millions, or even under $10 million.
In any case, the next 10 years are going to be a very exciting time for the space community. The democratisation of space is only just beginning. It is coming from new players in space - some may be billionaires with great resources behind them; others, smaller but no less determined.
To the stars,
CEO & Founder, Gilmour Space Technologies