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Sun, sea, surf...and Space

This opinion piece was first published in the Gold Coast Bulletin on 14 Nov 2020.

By Adam Gilmour

The Gold Coast may be best known for its golden beaches, high-rise developments, and theme parks. But a new industry is emerging out of the City’s advanced manufacturing sector that could well be the diversification it is looking for.

From my office today, I see two teams of engineers testing space systems and components that will be integrated into our orbital rocket, Eris, which we plan to launch to orbit in 2022. Next door, our technicians are discussing the finer points of a new turbopump that we're developing with researchers from the University of Queensland. And in about 15 minutes, some of our managers will be kicking off a meeting with Griffith University to define the requirements of a new 100-kilogram satellite that could help solve a uniquely Australian problem from space. 

Just another morning at Gilmour Space Technologies’ small rocket facility on the Gold Coast. 

People often ask me why we chose to set up a rocket company at one of Australia’s most famous tourist destinations. Afterall, South Australia has a more focused strategy for building a New Space industry; and New South Wales is home to most of the country’s financiers and venture capital firms. 

On a personal level, there is something to be said about living the life of your dreams. On a business level, however, it is very important that we have been able to attract the talent that we need – from across Queensland and Australia, and as far away as the US, Italy, and Spain – to work on our innovative and advanced rocket technologies here on the Gold Coast.   

Capital can be raised from all over the world, and of course we will need more of it. But lack of infrastructure continues to be a challenge. The next year will see our company setting up a small rocket engine test site, hopefully here on the Coast; as well as a significant Advanced Manufacturing Rocket Facility that will have the capacity to manufacture up to twelve rockets a year by 2024.  

With steady progress and continued support by the State Government for an orbital launch site at Abbot Point, it would be a proud day for all Australians to see rockets (developed and built here on the Gold Coast) launched off Queensland’s new Space Coast in 2022. 

Space is a growing industry that’s creating high-value jobs, developing innovative technologies, bringing in diversified revenues and investments, advancing our sovereign manufacturing capability, and impacting all industries in Australia. 

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