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Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch spurs Gilmour Space Technologies to push on with Queensland plan

Queensland scientists with their eyes firmly fixed on future space travel have been inspired by Elon Musk’s SpaceX venture and are planning their own launch by 2022.

Based in Helensvale, Gilmour Space Technologies has been building rockets which it hopes will eventually launch people into space.

Founder and CEO Adam Gilmour said the recent launch and docking of Space-X had spurred his team on.

“It’s a big milestone as traditionally governments control putting people into space,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

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“This is the first time a private company has designed, developed, tested and launched people into space.

“It’s a huge deal as it shows that commercial companies can do what is deemed so hard by themselves.”

A picture of a rocket in space overlooking Earth.
A artist’s impression of the Eris rocket designed by Gilmour Space Technologies.(Supplied: Gilmour Space Technologies)

It is rocket science

The group started with rockets taking satellites into space to build its business before taking steps to putting humans into space.

A test flight in 2019 was unsuccessful, yet it has not deterred the group with its goal to train more Australians in space technology.

“Space is a great industry to grow jobs and we’re keen to grow jobs here in Queensland,” Mr Gilmour said.

“We desperately need another 20–30 people, and most will be fabricators — people who have worked on any other vehicle, as we can retrain them.

“When we start building the rockets in sequence like 10 to 12 a year, we’re going to need more than 500 people.”

He said if they had experience building cars, they would be useful to his business.

Eyes set on Far North Queensland

When it comes to launch sites, the group has its eyes firmly set on Far North Queensland.

The region has superior launch capacity because it is closer to the equator, meaning rockets get an extra kick from the Earth’s spin.

“We have looked at the whole of Australia and we think it’s the best place to launch rockets from as you can go anywhere in space from there, the Moon, Mars, anywhere in the solar system,” Mr Gilmour said.

He said the future would not be rockets carrying just one or two people, but “more like 20 and 30 people going up, and we want to be part of that journey”.

A group of people standing in front of a rocket.
The group are based in Queensland and hope to remain that way.(Supplied: Gilmour Space Technologies)

Most of the funding for the technology comes from venture capital, yet Mr Gilmour is hoping a recent agreement with the Australian Space Agency will see funding come their way.

“We’re yet to see money from the Australian Space Agency but we have seen a little money from the Federal Government,” he said.

“They’re [Australian Space Agency] yet to put any money behind any of the space start-up companies, there is money that is supposed to come into industry in the second half of the year so will wait and see.”


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