Australian hybrid rocket developer Gilmour Space is shooting for the moon after striking its first international commercial contract with US-based Momentus Inc.
The Gold Coast company, which has largely focused on the growth market of low-earth orbit communication satellites, could potentially explore new frontiers under this agreement.
The multimillion-dollar partnership initially gives Momentus, an in-space infrastructure service provider, access to Gilmour's Eris launch services, which offer low inclination and equatorial orbit capabilities.
It equally gives Gilmour access to a bigger piece of the space economy through the Momentus Vigoride transportation service, expanding the flight domain of the Eris rockets to take them beyond low-earth orbits and potentially to the moon.
The deal provides Gilmour Space the option of booking up to three Vigoride charter missions for orbital transfer services from Momentus between 2023 and 2025.
In return, Momentus will purchase one dedicated Eris launch service from an Australian launch site.
The latest announcement adds to a string of collaborations established by the Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space this year including its first Australian launch contract with SA-based start-up Space Machines Company.
Last week, Gilmour Space signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with global aerospace giant Northrop Grumman to develop Australia's space capabilities. Northrop Grumman will join Gilmour Space as an industry partner on a previously announced Cooperative Research Centre Project to develop composite rocket tanks for low-cost space transport.
Earlier this year, Gilmour revealed it had struck an agreement with Defence Science and Technology, the federal government's lead agency responsible for applying science and technology to safeguard the national interest.
Gilmour Space CEO and co-founder Adam Gilmour says the latest collaboration with Momentus comes at a time of increased support from the federal government to develop Australia's sovereign space industry capability in defence and manufacturing.
"The government is looking at space right now as a way to boost our sovereign industrial capability in advanced manufacturing and defence," says Gilmour.
"This is absolutely the right thing to do, but for it to be sustainable, we need to be more focused on commercial outcomes."
Gilmour says his company is speaking to domestic and international customers about launching from Australia.
"This deal is proof that there is a market out there for Australian space technologies and launch. With two rockets sold, I'm very excited by the opportunities ahead."
Gilmour highlights the Momentus deal is the first international contract the company has announced this year, and is a great example of how innovative companies are coming together to accelerate development and provide new access to space," says Gilmour.
"With two rockets sold and a number of launches being negotiated now with other customers, I see this as further evidence that we can have a commercial space launch business in Australia."
From a technology perspective, Gilmour says the companies are leveraging off each other's strengths and expanding their capability. Gilmour Space is working on larger rocket models which are expected to come to the market in 2023, enabling deployments and missions beyond its current target market of low-earth orbit satellites.
The agreement with Gilmour follows a deal by Momentus to launch a satellite for Australian-based space services company Skycraft in 2021.
"We are looking forward to supporting ambitious projects in partnership with Gilmour Space, such as flagship missions with the Australian Space Agency and development of sovereign space capabilities with the local industry," says Momentus CEO Mikhail Kokorich.Never miss a news update, subscribe here. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.
Business News Australia