Queensland-based Gilmour Space Technologies is set to launch the first ever Australian defence satellite orbited from Australian territory.
Although Defence has a number of experimental satellites and also uses other people’s satellites for surveillance and communication, all were launched overseas.
Company chief executive officer Adam Gilmour said this was a big milestone for an Australian-owned company working hard to develop sovereign space and launch capabilities for civil, commercial and defence customers. “Under this deal, Gilmour Space will be developing a G-class satellite for Defence and launch it on our Eris rocket from an Australian launch site,” he said.
In a 9 May release, Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the $15 million partnership with Gilmour Space Technologies was a demonstration of the Government’s commitment to developing sovereign space capabilities. “In line with our recently released Defence Space Strategy, Defence is closely engaged with the Australian Space Agency and Australian industry to develop and supply sovereign space surveillance and mission system capabilities,” he said.
Defence hasn’t yet specified what their new satellite will do, although the Minister said the objective was to assure Australia’s continued access to space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. He said Defence aimed to launch a satellite prototype in conjunction with Gilmour Space by mid-2023.
Gilmour, based on the Gold Coast, is developing advanced hybrid rockets, and is planning its first orbital launch for later this year. With 140 employees, it’s now Australia’s largest space company.