BOWEN might not be the centre of the universe for those outside the region, but it is one of the few towns joining the outer space industry.
Australian launch services company Gilmour Space Technologies has announced it will launch a dedicated ride-share mission into low earth orbit (LEO), in late 2024, from its soon-to-be finished launch site, at Abbott Point.
Unlike most rocket launches, which host a primary customer payload, a ride-share launch comprises payloads for many customers, such as cubesats, microsats and other small spacecraft.
“Called Caravan-1, this mission will provide affordable access to new space customers looking to launch into a mid-inclination orbit at the end of 2024,” CEO and co-founder of Gilmour Space Adam Gilmour said.
The venture capital-backed company is developing Australian rockets that will deliver a variety of spacecraft into LEO.
It expects to launch its first Eris vehicle from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport early next year.
“Caravan-1 will launch our upgraded Eris Block 2 rocket in 2024, which will have a lift capacity of one tonne, into orbit – a significant upgrade in launch capability and capacity for our customers,” he said.
Caravan-1 customers will also have the option of using a standard 37cm (15-inch) adaptor port, and/or leveraging on Gilmour Space’s modular satellite platform, called the G-Sat, for individual payloads.
“The next few years are going to be an exciting time for the global space industry and missions like this will allow us to support the growth of new satellite and in-orbit technologies that could benefit humanity on earth, in space, and beyond,” Mr Gilmour said.
Australia is among many new players in the global space market, mainly start-ups in the early stages of developing new space technologies.
Access to Gilmour Space Technologies, specifically, launch cost and availability are a major challenge for companies as they develop, test, iterate and deploy their technologies in space.
Due to the high cost of getting into space, their only option was to be a ‘ride-share’ customer, piggybacking on a larger customer’s launch.