Gilmour Space Technologies, a venture-funded rocket company, will proceed with a development application for a small rocket launch pad at the Abbot Point State Development Area, the Queensland government has announced.
“Growing our space industry in Queensland will add billions to the economy and create thousands of local jobs. That’s why we are committed the development of launch infrastructure,” deputy premier and minister for State Development Steven Miles said.
“Our easterly facing position, proximity to the equator and our leading launch and propulsion companies make Queensland the perfect place to invest in space.”
This follows a technical study commissioned on Abbot Point last year concluding that the site is suitable for small-scale launch vehicles.
Gilmour Space Technologies, operating on the Gold Coast, is developing rockets at a lower cost to launch small satellites into Low Earth Orbits from 2022.
“Gilmour Space Technologies has expressed an interest in the site and we are keen to work with the team at Gilmour and local stakeholders,” Miles said.
Several Australian payloads will launch on Gilmour Space Technologies’ first Eris rocket next year, including a “space taxi” by Space Machines Company from Sydney and a fire detection satellite by Fireball International in the Sunshine Coast.
“A launch site at Abbot Point in North Queensland would give our customers a range of valuable orbits, inclinations and altitudes that they will require,” Gilmour Space co-founder and head of Launch Operations James Gilmour said.
Developing a launch site at Abbot Point will deliver a sizeable economic boost for the Whitsunday region and generate hundreds of job opportunities for Bowen and Whitsunday residents.
“For too long Bowen has been the next ‘boom town’ in north Queensland, so adding a space launch site to our expanding agriculture, mining and tourism sectors will be a game-changer for our region,” Whitsunday Regional Council mayor Andrew Willcox said.
“I am excited for the economic and tourism opportunities ahead and look forward to all levels of government working together to make this space project a reality with the possibility of the first launch being as early as next year.”
“Our next step is to continue to work with key stakeholders to get all the necessary approvals we need to proceed on building and operating an orbital launch facility at Abbot Point,” Gilmour said.
“With sufficient and timely support, I see no reason why we can’t be demonstrating key sovereign space capability next year, launching our first Australian-made rocket, with Australian payloads, from an Australian launch site.”
In line with Gilmour Space Technologies’ vision to achieve “All orbits, all planets” there is also the possibility of a proposed launch site in South Australia, for complementary polar orbits.