3 mins read 15 Mar 2023

Gilmour Space partners with Atomos Space for in-space transportation and launch

Gilmour Space and US-based Atmos Space have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a multi-year contract for in-space transportation and launch aggregation services.

Artists impression of Atomos' OTV which will rendezvous with client satellites on-orbit and take them to their final destination. Credit: Gilmour Space Technologies

The recent Avalon Airshow in Melbourne was the backdrop for Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space and US company Atomos Space to announce a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which covers in-space transportation and launch aggregation services. 

The partnership will see Atomos contract Gilmour for launch services on its Eris and upcoming orbital launch vehicles. Gilmour is preparing for the first Australian orbital rocket launch later this year from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport in North Queensland, Australia.

In return, Atomos will provide Orbital Transfer Vehicles (OTVs) for in-space transportation services to customers and launch aggregation services of multiple customer spacecraft for launch on Gilmour vehicles. 

Atomos has a unique approach where, unlike similar systems under development, their OTVs reside in space in low, easy-to-access orbit. They can rendezvous with client satellites on-orbit and take them to their final destination, then the OTVs can return to low orbit for the next job - effectively enabling ridesharing from the Earth to low orbit.

Atomos CEO and Founder, Vanessa Clark, explained that the OTVs optimize transportation using efficient expulsion systems. As the OTVs reside in low orbit, they don’t need the high thrust required by the first part of the journey, from Earth to orbit. 

This allows the full launch mass and volume to be reserved for the payload, reducing costs to the customer and allowing launch vehicles, such as Eris, to be used for a broader range of missions.

“With that constraint removed, we can be a lot more efficient, and so our systems can move rapidly around in space and can even enable missions that traditional chemical rockets can do today. Like getting payloads to Mars in less than two months,” said Vanessa Clark. 

“This new agreement with Atomos is an exciting opportunity for Gilmour,” said Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space Technologies. 

“We look forward to exploring the possibility of leveraging Atomos’ orbital transfer capabilities to expand our services and the flexibility of access to space to new markets and customers.” 

Atomos said on Twitter when they announced the agreement that they were ‘…thrilled to work with Gilmour Space to make space access fast, robust, and dynamic. Gilmour Space and Atomos are helping expand the New Space economy.”  

“By leveraging the strengths of each of our companies, we anticipate being able to provide unparalleled services to customers in the space launch and transportation industry,” said Vanessa Clark, CEO of Atomos.