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Australian “road to space” now laid with Bowen Orbital Spaceport’s new licence

Manufacturing News

The Gilmour Space Technologies-operated spaceport in north Queensland has gained approval as an orbital launch facility, Gilmour announced on Tuesday morning.

The Bowen Orbital Spaceport is the first granted its licence by federal industry minister Ed Husic under the Space (Launches & Returns) Act 2018, the company said.

Rocket manufacturer and launch services provider Gilmour claimed that the licence represented “a vote of confidence in the company’s technical capability” and creates a path to launching the nation’s first sovereign-made rockets.

Gilmour completed a $55 million Series D round last month ahead of a planned maiden launch this year. The company has said this provides enough funding for four launch attempts.

“Australia now has its own ‘road’ to space,” said Gilmour Space CEO, Adam Gilmour, who co-founded the company with brother James over a decade ago. 

The company has been pursuing its rocket program since 2015.

“The ability to launch our own satellites, on launch vehicles that we own and control, to key orbits in space from Australia, will be a significant capability for our global customers, as well as for our nation and allies,” he added.

James Gilmour, the company’s Head of Launch Operations, said, “It’s been two years since we started the project, engaging with the Juru traditional owners and other stakeholders at the local, state and federal levels. 

“We’ve seen these efforts lead to diversified business opportunities, jobs, and investment in Bowen and greater Whitsunday region; and it will be exciting to see ‘rocket tourism’ emerging to support the local economy.”

The first test flight of the company’s three-stage Eris rocket is planned “in the coming months”, it said, “pending approval of the launch permit by the Australian Space Agency.”

Separately, satellite manufacturer Space Machines Company announced the successful launch on Tuesday morning of Optimus, –Australia’s largest-ever private satellite and the company’s first Orbital Servicing Vehicle (OSV) — from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX rocket.

Picture Adam (left) and James Gilmour at Bowen (supplied)

Further reading

Gilmour Space raises $55m, Eris rocket heads for space

Gilmour Space begins work on Eris rocket – video

Gilmour Space Technologies secures indigenous support

Space Machines’ Optimus satellite launched on SpaceX rocket


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