Gilmour Space raises $19m for low-cost smallsat launchers

Gilmour Space Technologies, a hybrid propulsion company based in Queensland and Singapore, has raised $19 million to scale-up and launch its first commercial hybrid rocket to space in 2020.

Gilmour Space is developing low-cost launch vehicles to put small to medium sized satellites into low earth orbit, for uses ranging from establishing telecommunications in remote areas to running internet-of-things networks.

The investment round on September 28 was led by top-tier venture capital firms in Australia: Main Sequence Ventures, which manages Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) innovation fund; and Blackbird Ventures, which led Gilmour Space’s $5 million Series A round in May last year.

Adam Gilmour, Founder and CEO of Gilmour Space Technologies, welcomed the support and investment.

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“We see small satellite launches as a multi-billion dollar opportunity, and this funding will help us become a significant player in the global small launch market. We look forward to working closer with the government, space agency and CSIRO to help launch Australia into space.”

Martin Duursma, Partner, Main Sequence Ventures, said Gilmour Space would soon be capable of launching satellites for both commercial and national benefit.

“This is a great example of the rise of innovation in the nation’s space sector. We are excited to support the company in its growth in Australia and beyond.”

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said the CSIRO Innovation Fund stood ready to help local innovators fire on all cylinders.

“Australia is on the cusp of launching its own space industry, as outlined in CSIRO’s Space Roadmap, launched by Minister Andrews earlier this week,” Marshall said.

“Building on more than 70 years of space research, CSIRO is excited to continue its journey from radar to Moon landing to WiFi, to now investing in rockets with Gilmour Space Technologies through the CSIRO Innovation Fund, managed by Main Sequence Ventures.”

Since January, Gilmour Space has achieved a number of key milestones: It completed a series of ground tests on its proprietary orbital-class hybrid rocket engine, generating a record 80 kilonewtons (18,000 pounds) of thrust; signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA (the first private company to do so in Australia); and is preparing for a suborbital test flight in a few months’ time.

Australia too is seeing the dawn of a New Space Age, with a newly established space agency, and key amendments in legislation that will enable domestic launches. “We are ready to take bold new steps to grow our space sector, and to provide jobs now and into the future,” Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews said.

“This investment into Gilmour Space is a great example of how the Australian Government is supporting cutting-edge innovation in Australia’s space industry.”