Gilmour Space Technologies is on a mission to bring space closer to the Earth in the Asia-Pacific region. The rocket #startup got a little boost today, announcing a series A fundraise worth US$3.7 million.
Australian venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures led the round. Other investors include 500 Startups.
Operating in Singapore and Australia, Gilmour Space was founded in 2013 and began work on its rocket building project in late 2014. Founder and CEO Adam Gilmour’s vision was to provide an accessible and affordable launch vehicle to smaller companies shooting microsatellites into orbit.
Currently available methods are expensive and there’s only so much room on launchers, creating a long queue of companies waiting to get their products spaceborne. “You have to deal with high launch costs of around US$30,000 to US$60,000 per kilogram, multi-year waiting lists, and the vagaries of being a secondary payload. All these add to the challenges faced by businesses seeking to leverage new technologies,” Gilmour says.
Gilmour Space performed a successful test launch last year, sending a rocket up to an altitude of five kilometers. The startup has opted for hybrid engine technology, which uses different types of fuel to maintain performance while keeping costs low, and has developed a proprietary form of 3D-printed fuel.
“Our proprietary multi-material 3D-printed fuel allows us to launch rockets at a fraction of the cost – a benefit that we plan to pass on to our clients,” Gilmour says.
The fresh funding will help Gilmour Space continue development of its rocket and fuel tech, and increase its current headcount of 20 engineers. Gilmour Space plans to launch its first suborbital rocket, dubbed Ariel, by the end of 2018. Its larger launcher, Eris, is scheduled to go up to Low Earth Orbit in 2020. That’s between 160 and 2,000 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, where most satellites orbit the planet.
Gilmour Space has also received a grant from Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster, a government-formed initiative to boost 3D printing manufacturing capabilities for the city-state. The startup will work with the University of Technology and Design on aerospace-related 3D printing projects.
The opportunity of the global small satellite industry could reach US$7.2 billion worldwide by 2022, according to a report by Allied Market Research.