Two Australian companies are on track to achieving a new milestone for the country's space sector, one of the fastest-growing globally thanks to an ideal geographic position and a flurry of interest from government and private industry.
While Elon Musk's SpaceX is emblematic of the modern space race buoyed by private capital and research, there are thousands of companies worldwide chasing the cosmic cheddar.
With opportunities ranging from low-orbit satellite internet providers to mining to defence, startups and scale-ups are looking to stake their positions in this multi-dimensional frontier.
In Australia alone there are an estimated 770 companies developing infrastructure for the space industry, and Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space Technologies is one of them.
Gilmour Space has been actively developing its breed of hybrid-engine rockets catering to booming demand for future space exploration, and these efforts are expected to culminate in the maiden launch of its Eris rocket in 2022.
Today Gilmour Space announced Sydney-based Space Machines Company, its first Australian customer for the event, has contracted to launch a 35kg spacecraft to orbit, the largest payload announced to date by an Australian space company.
"This could well be the first Australian payload to be launched to orbit on an Australian rocket, from an Australian launch site," says Gilmour Space CEO and co-founder Adam Gilmour.
"We are delighted to be supporting Gilmour's first commercial flight and being part of this important milestone in the development of Australia's space industry," he says.
Space Machines Company is an Australian startup developing in-space transportation capabilities to cost-effectively insert small satellites into desired low earth orbits (LEO), geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and Cis-Lunar (Moon) orbits.
"We are delighted to be supporting Gilmour's first commercial flight and being part of this important milestone in the development of Australia's space industry," says Space Machines Company CEO and co-founder Rajat Kulshrestha.
"At 35kg, this will be one of the largest spacecraft developed and tested by an Australian space company."
Despite being a late entrant into the commercial space market, Australia's pace of growth has accelerated in recent years with the emergence of smaller, more agile commercial players looking to tap into the $500 billion-a-year global space economy.
"Startups like Space Machines Company are gearing up to launch their innovative new products and services to market," says Gilmour.
"But getting to space is still a big challenge for small-payload customers, particularly if they need access to specific orbits or inclinations."
To meet this global demand, Gilmour's first Eris rockets will be launching payloads up to 305 kg into low earth orbits - 215kg into 500km sun-synchronous orbits or 305kg into 500km equatorial orbits.
"We've closed two commercial launch contracts in the last few months, and are targeting 12 rockets a year by 2025," adds Gilmour.
"It's clear to us that the Australian space industry is ready for launch."Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
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