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6 mins read 04 Oct 2021

Gilmour Leads Regional Space Manufacturing Collaboration Network

 Over 30 Australian Space Manufacturing companies, led by Gilmour Space Technologies, have come together to create the Australian Space Manufacturing Network. The network will support a /$150 million bid for the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative.  

The Hon Cameron Dick, Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Investment visited the Gilmour Space Technologies facility on the Gold Coast earlier this year. The Queensland State government are supporting the network and MMIC application. Credit: Gilmour Space Technologies.

Space manufacturing companies from across Australia have come together to form the Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN). The network, led by Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies, with support from the Queensland State Government, is leading a $150 million bid for the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative - Collaboration (MMIC) stream.  

The MMIC is a federal government initiative which supports the six national manufacturing priorities which includes space. Under the initiative, funding for the collaborative stream provides for a small number of large transformational projects. These projects aim to create and facilitate collaborative ecosystems. 

The Australian Space Community is diverse and highly specialised, and it's hoped that this grant will give the network an opportunity to grow and provide a truly transformational opportunity to the Australian Space Industry.

The collaboration will be supporting the development of three new space facilities, centred in Queensland: 

  • A common test and manufacturing facility, enabling members to advance their space research and technology development at a lower cost

  • An advanced manufacturing facility for building commercial rockets and satellites, anchored by Gilmour Space

  • An orbital spaceport at Abbot Point near Bowen in North Queensland, that will help bring many of these products to space

“With participation from six states and territories in Australia, we see this as a genuinely industry-led project that will provide the framework and infrastructure needed to unlock collaborations, create jobs and capability, attract private investment, and advance Australian space technologies from initial concept through to commercialisation and launch,” said Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space Technologies.

According to Gilmour, space is the least developed of the six key manufacturing priorities and lacks the basic infrastructure and funding to support it. Mr Gilmour was on the task force for the MMI Space Roadmap, with one of the key outcomes discussed being an Australian-owned company to champion the development of local supply chains that will encourage companies into the space industry; and to provide opportunities to 'flight-test' sovereign technologies on rockets and satellites.  

"With the global space economy expected to grow to a trillion dollars by 2030, the MMIC will provide timely support for our emerging space manufacturers to develop and mature significant, and globally competitive, space capabilities in Australia,” added Mr Gilmour.

Australian Space Industry Collaboration

Electro Optic Systems Pty Ltd are supporting the MMIC bid, this is EOS their ground-breaking adaptive optics research involving shooting a laser into the sky from Mt Stromlo Observatory. Credit: EOS.

The ASMN aims to create a world-leading manufacturing and collaboration facility that will combine the capabilities of over 30 partners to deliver state-of-the-art launch vehicles and small satellite technologies.

Among the ASMN founding members are the Swinburne University of Technology in Victoria; Space Machines Company and Neumann Space in South Australia; Electro Optic Systems Pty Ltd (EOS) and Greatcell Energy in the ACT; Spiral Blue in New South Wales; the ARM Hub and Griffith University in Queensland; and a number of international space companies, such as SatRevolution from Poland, which are looking to set up operations in Australia and provide export and supply chain opportunities to local companies. 

EOS are supporting the push to grow Australian space infrastructure. According to an EOS spokesperson, the need for a common use facility to share resources to support the large number of start-up and academic programs is well recognised, and EOS welcomes the initiative from Gilmour space to establish such a facility in Queensland. The use of shared resources within a collaborative, fast-moving commercial environment will serve to accelerate the development of the local commercial industry. 

“EOS is pleased to support the ASMN proposal for launch and space manufacturing facilities in Queensland.  EOS has an existing space manufacturing business in Queensland, EM Solutions, which will directly benefit through access to the ASMN facilities and enhanced collaboration opportunities with industry partners in Queensland,” said the spokesperson. 

Space Machines Company (SMC) CEO and Founder, Rajat Kulshrestha said the ASMN was created to recognise the growing market opportunities for new space technologies. For start-ups like SMC, it is important to be part of consortiums like this as it gives them the opportunity to drive innovation and build economies of scale.  

“This consortium can power the development of commercialisation of advanced technologies with cross-sector applications. It will also be a way to connect Australia to the growing global space economy,” said  Kulshrestha.

“The C in MMIC stands for 'collaboration' and the guidelines specifically mention large transformational projects that "directly feature collaboration or will create and facilitate collaborative ecosystems". The good news is that launch vehicles and satellites are inherently collaborative in their design and manufacture,” added Gilmour. 

A supportive network with international backing

The network covers both Australian and International Space Companies. Credit: Supplied.

Boeing, who have close ties to the Australian space industry and have announced collaborations with RMIT and Hypersonix in the last few months are also supporting the network.

According to a Boeing, the aerospace giant has the experience, established Australian presence and understanding of key issues to help Australia develop its space industry and to support the ASMN in its goal of advancing Australian space technologies from initial concept through to commercialisation and launch.  

The global aerospace and defence company is committed to making strategic research and development investments and establishing collaborations that support the Australian industry in its efforts to develop sovereign space capabilities and access global supply chain opportunities.

Boeing also hopes to leverage their experience in the US, globally, and in Australia which will continue to benefit the Australian space sector through the transfer of technical knowledge and expertise to local industry, IP development, the creation of local jobs, and the establishment of export opportunities for Australian small businesses.

“It is very important for the consortium to share and focus on a common approach and goals. Together, manufacturing and SMEs alike want to focus on how Australia can improve in collaborating with local and international partners, adopt new technologies and attract and retain new talent,” added Kulshrestha

“The growth in the sector more broadly presents opportunities to scale Australian space manufacturing from an emerging sector to a competitive, resilient and experienced one. By developing excellence in domestic space manufacturing, this will allow Australia to maintain, deepen and broaden its competitive edge in key space activities,” he concluded. 

When asked what Gilmour hopes the Australian space industry will gain from the development of this consortium and what its long term impact could be, he said,

“World-class space capabilities in the form of Australian-made launch vehicles, satellites, and other space technologies; and an orbital launch site at Abbot Point. We hope to see the ASMN become the centre of excellence for space in the Asia Pacific, supporting the emergence of Australia as a true middle power and partner in space.”