June 1, 2018

A Future Australian-Singaporean Rocket May Provide Nuclear Capability


As the US Government sends out mixed, often contradictory, signals to allies and opponents, more countries are hedging with research into components maybe for future nuclear capabilities. For example Japan has long been developing and using the 1,500kg payload Epsilon rocket (see context).

Now Australia and Singapore may be entering the beginnings (in 2 decades?) of nuclear (payload) capable rocket development. Multi-stage rockets of sufficient size and range provide dual civilian/military possibilities.

Rocket engine tests, launch pads and test flights are not possible in Singapore's extremely limited
721.5 kmland area, in which  5.612 million people are crowded. The sea around Singapore, crowded with ships, is also ill-suited to be a test range. 

In contrast Australia has used its wide open spaces to test rockets for decades at RAAF Woomera Range Complex, South Australia. Some Australians have also suggested Cape York Peninsula, Queensland, Australia, as a potential launch siteCape York is better suited in terms of  Earth rotational physics and avoiding populated areas. This is because Cape York is nearer the Equator and rockets can be fired easterly and more safely over the Coral Sea.


Gilmour Space March 2018: 70 kN of thrust (15,700 lbs) generated in what could be the world's largest successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine. The test was held in Australia.

"Gilmour Space prepares for suborbital hybrid rocket launch with 75 kN (16,900 lbs) test-fire

May 29, 2018

 “Our low-cost launch capability could provide a significant comparative (and competitive) advantage to Australia and Singapore’s new space industry.”

- Adam Gilmour, CEO & Founder, Gilmour Space Technologies

AUSTRALIA & SINGAPORE, MAY 28, 2018 – [Australian-Singaporean] rocket company, Gilmour Space Technologies, has completed a longer duration test-fire of its proprietary hybrid rocket engine, bringing it one step closer to launching Australia and Singapore's first privately-developed commercial rockets to space. 

"This was a 12-second static fire of what will be our first-stage orbital rocket engine. It demonstrated stable thrust, and peaked at 75 kilonewtons (or 16,900 pounds) of force,” said the company’s CEO and Founder, Adam Gilmour. An earlier test in March had generated 70 kN, reportedly then the world’s largest successful test of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.

“75 kN marks a new record for this engine, and is more than what we will need for our coming suborbital and orbital launches,” he added. (Watch test-fire video)

Next stop: Suborbital space

Gilmour Space is planning a suborbital test launch in the third quarter of this year, and is working with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to approve the launch from a remote private property in Queensland.

“Our first test rocket launch in mid 2016 was a sub-scale demonstration of our new hybrid engine technology, and its success led to our Series A investment,” he explained. 

“The next launch will be the flight test of a full-scale engine, which we plan to use in the first stage of our Eris orbital rocket.” 'Eris' is the company's three-stage hybrid rocket dedicated to launching small satellites (up to 400 kg) to Low Earth Orbit by 2020.

“It will also be a test of our mobile launch platform, which we've designed to enable rapid and low-cost launches from remote locations,” he added. "Interestingly, this capability for responsive launch is one that other countries like the US, Europe and UK are trying very hard to develop right now." 

Being new, being nimble

This latest test-fire comes just two weeks after the Australian government officially launched the Australian Space Agency and released details of a nine-month space industry review. 

The report included recommendations to support 'next generation’ rocket propulsion systems, and make necessary changes to the Space Activities Act to enable commercial small satellite launches from Australia. 

"With Gilmour Space's technology and low-cost launch capabilities, small satellite launches could easily be a 'low-hanging fruit' for Australia. Our significant progress puts us as one of the front-runners in today's global small launch market, and we look forward to working with commercial, civil and defence partners to build a stronger and more vibrant domestic space industry in Australia and Singapore."

To the stars.


Gilmour Space Technologies is an Australia and Singapore-based rocket company that is developing low-cost launch vehicles for the small satellite/payload market.

Key milestones since beginning its rocket program in 2015:
  • June 2016: Gilmour Space first made headlines when it successfully flew the countries'first privately developed hybrid rocket to an altitude of 5 Km using proprietary 3D printed fuel (reportedly a world-first demonstration).
  • June 2017: It raised AUD 5 million (USD 3.7 million) in Series-A funding from venture capital firms Blackbird Ventures and 500 Startups, among others. Gilmour Space has also been awarded various R&D grants in Singapore and Australia.
  • August 2017: Successfully ground tested a high-impulse Cubesat Propulsion System, which could potentially power a 1U cubesat to the orbit of the Moon or Mars.
  • January 2018: Announced results of its first full-scale orbital engine test in December, which generated 45 kN in a low-pressure test fire.
  • March 2018: 70 kN of thrust (15,700 lbs) generated in what could be the world's largest successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.

Considered one of the leading space startups in Australia and Singapore, Gilmour Space is scaling up to launch their first rockets to suborbital space in 2018, and to LEO in 2020.


Michelle Gilmour
Director, Marketing & Communications, Gilmour Space Technologies
Singapore Tel: (+65) 9106 6714
Australia Tel: (+61) 0408 973 296 – James Gilmour (Director & Co-Founder)

General enquiries: info@gspacetech.com
Facebook: Gilmourspacetech 
Twitter: @GilmourSpace

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post Pete.

Singapore certainly needs a missile deterrent against China's and North Korea's growing nuclear missile capabilities.