Gold Coast manufacturer Gilmour Space Technologies will partner with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to collaborate on research and technology development in space – including missions to the Red Planet.
The private space company – better known for its pioneering work on small hybrid rockets – recently conducted a low-pressure test fire of its large orbital engine, which generated 45 kilonewtons (or over 10,100 pounds-force) of thrust.
Its Space Act Agreement means Gilmour Space Technologies will work closely with NASA on rover testing at Kennedy Space Center, and may explore other potential future activities in areas of mutual interest, including space transportation, propulsion, in-situ resource utilisation, sustainability and life support systems.
“NASA is a world leader in space exploration efforts, and we’re privileged to be able to work with them to develop and test some of our innovative new space technologies,” said Gilmour CEO Adam Gilmour.
“It was a key demonstration of our hybrid rocket technology, in line with our mission to launch small satellites weighing up to 380kg to space by 2020.
“However, we recognise that space launch is just one piece of the bigger puzzle,” he added.
“In our journey to the stars, humankind will need to build sustainable and long-term infrastructure and bases on the moon, asteroids or Mars. We will need to be able to manufacture big things off-Earth, generate lots of energy, and develop technology that will help us survive and live longer in space.
“We hope to work with NASA to solve many of these issues in the years ahead.”
Australia’s Defence Industry minister Christopher Pyne said the government’s 2016 Defence White Paper acknowledged the importance of space-based and space-enabled capabilities, and the vital role they play in Australian Defence Force and coalition operations.
“With the Government’s recent announcement of a national Space Agency, partnerships like this one announced today complements the government’s vision in advancing Australia’s space capabilities,” Pyne said.
“Investment in space capabilities will be an important element of the Government planned commitment of $200 billion to build up our defence capability over the next 10 years. This will provide opportunities for industry growth and employment.”