3 mins read 13 Jul 2020

Gilmour Space Breaks Hybrid Rocket Record

Queensland Company Gilmour Space has achieved a record 110 second full duration test of their hybrid rocket engine, more than doubling their previous record. 

Gilmour Space is rocketing through 2020. On the back of their previous hybrid rocket test which saw their hybrid rocket test fire for a full 45 seconds in an Australian first, they have now more than doubled that record. In their latest milestone, Gilmour Space has now achieved a 110 second test fire of their upper stage hybrid engine, one of the longest hybrid rocket engine test firings in the world. 

“We more than doubled the duration of our last 45-second test fire, and in the process proved a lot of the technologies we will need for our larger engines,” said Gilmour Space CEO and co-founder, Adam Gilmour. “What you see here is a mission duty cycle and throttle test of our smallest upper-stage engine.”

“We also conducted a controlled throttle-down during the test to demonstrate our engine’s on-orbit manoeuvring capability to a customer,” Mr. Gilmour said. This capability could be very useful for surface landings on the Moon or Mars, he added.  

The Gold Coast company is developing a three-stage hybrid rocket to launch small satellites into orbit from 2022. The 110 second test fire fits the time expected for this final stage of their rocket to deliver customer payloads into their specific orbit. 

The future of rocket technology

Gilmour Space is a company that is pioneering to be Australia’s first orbital launch provider. Tests such as this 110 second hybrid rocket achievement helps bring this ambition into reality. The use of new single-port hybrid propulsion rocket technology means that these engines will be significantly cheaper, greener, and safer to operate than traditional liquid and solid propulsion rockets. 

These tests from Gilmour Space also emphasise the growing importance of commercial companies within this field. Space industry has previously been within sole control of governments and space agencies. Now, however, the opening up of space to smaller companies could revolutionise technology. 

"With space now opening up to commercial players, we are seeing an explosion of innovation in the global space industry -- constellations of smaller satellites in low earth orbits transmitting massive amounts of data for our mobile needs, enabling cheaper and faster internet, autonomous vehicle systems, the Internet of Things, and much more," said Mr. Gilmour. 

“However, launch costs and availability are still big challenges for small satellite players globally, and we remain committed to providing customers with more cost-effective and reliable access to space,” he added. 

Building Momentum

This new test achievement comes on the back of many previous successes and partnerships form Gilmour Space. As well as their 45-second test earlier in June, the Queensland company also signed a collaboration agreement with Australia’s Defence Science Technology Group to develop defence-related space technologies in May this year. They also signed a Strategic Statement of Intent with the Australian Space Agency in December 2019 to show commitment to delivering ‘Access to Space’ as a civil priority area. They have also entered into collaborations with Titomic, the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), and the University of Queensland (UQ).

Mr. Gilmour commented, “Our team has started to take bookings for launch, and I look forward to announcing some customer contracts in the coming months.” It seems Gilmour Space is gearing up for their future with their new 110 second test record under their belt.