Gilmour Space Eris rocket
Australian company Gilmour Space says a new funding round will "give us runway" for a first launch of its Eris rocket in 2022. Credit: Gilmour Space

WASHINGTON — Australian small launch vehicle company Gilmour Space has raised nearly $46 million, funding the company through its first orbital launch in 2022.

Gilmour Space, based near Brisbane, Australia, said June 30 it raised a $61 million Australian ($45.8 million) Series C round from a group of investors led by Fine Structure Ventures, a U.S.-based fund affiliated with Fidelity Investments. Other investors include Australian venture capital funds Blackbird and Main Sequence, which led Gilmour’s Series A and B rounds, respectively, as well as several Australian retirement funds. The company has raised a total of $87 million Australian.

Gilmour Space is working on a small launch vehicle called Eris that is designed to place up to 215 kilograms into a sun-synchronous orbit. The vehicle will be powered by hybrid rocket engines that the company has been working on for several years.

“This new investment will give us runway to launch our first orbital rocket in 2022,” Adam Gilmour, chief executive and co-founder of Gilmour Space, said in a statement. The funding will go toward production of “multiple” Eris vehicles and allow the company to grow from 70 to 120 employees.

The funding will also support development of a commercial launch site in Queensland. The government of that Australian state announced May 20 it backed development of a launch site at Abbot Point in North Queensland that would be used by Gilmour Space. The company is considering sites in South Australia for launches to polar orbits.

Gilmour has signed up several customers for its vehicle, including companies in Australia’s emerging space industry. Adelaide-based Fleet, which is developing an internet-of-things constellation, signed a contract in March to launch six of its cubesats on Eris vehicles in 2023. Space Machines Company, a Sydney-based in-space transportation company, also signed an agreement with Gilmour in March for the launch of Optimus-1, a wildfire detection satellite.

For Fine Structure Ventures, its investment in Gilmour Space is the first deal it’s done in Australia. “The team at Gilmour is building the leading sovereign launch company in Australia and utilizing their innovative hybrid rocket engine to efficiently address the growing global demand for putting satellites into orbit,” Brett Rome, managing partner of Fine Structure Ventures, said in a statement.

“It’s fantastic to see the global support for our mission to build and launch lower cost rockets and satellites to orbit,” Adam Gilmour said.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...