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Powerful rocket to be launched into space from North Queensland

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There are plans to launch a powerful rocket into space from North Queensland later this year.

Engineers from Gilmour Space Technologies have been developing the rocket engine, which recently completed a 75-second test-fire.

CEO Adam Gilmour says the test was a success.

“It was what we call the flight engine, where all the components are flight-like, as if they will be on the rocket,” he says.

“[The test] was a really good demonstration of the technology and gives us a lot of confidence that we can go to space this year.”

It was a major milestone for the company, which hopes to create rockets capable of launching 300 to 4,000 kilogram satellites into low earth orbit over the next five years.

Next steps 

The Eris rocket, which will be tested in Bowen, is being built in a three stage process, with teams focusing on the final phase.

“What we’re going to do now is to wait about a month and then go through a series of qualification tests of these engines for slightly longer durations,” Mr Gilmour says.

“Once we’ve done that then we’ll put them on the rocket and the next time they’ll fire is to go to space.”

Mr Gilmour says they are seeking approval from the State and Federal Governments for a small orbital spaceport at the Abbot Point State Development Area.

“We hope to be able to launch Australia’s first sovereign-made rocket from Queensland sometime in the latter half of 2022,” he says.

He says the work is vital to the future of space technology in Australia.

“People don’t realise that everybody uses space technology every day…whether it’s you know using your phone for checking the weather, getting directions on Google maps, taking money out of an ATM.”

“Australia totally relies on other nations for space technology, we don’t launch any of our own rockets, we use very very tiny satellites, not bigger ones that have real capability.”

“We need to be able to have our own access to space technology, so that we can continue to rely on space technology and not have to rely on our allies or other countries.”

He says the industry also supports a lot of highly skilled jobs.

“They’re not all engineers, we have a lot of technicians within the company as well, electricians, welders, CNC machinists.”

“We pull these people out of other industries and teach them how to build rockets.”