Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) has led a $55 million Series D funding round for Gilmour Space Technologies with the company planning its first launch of a rocket into orbit later this year.

The funding round has been supported by venture firms Blackbird and Main Sequence along with super funds HostPlus and HESTA.

The Gold Coast-based company plans to use the new capital to fund the building, testing and launching of Australian-made rockets and satellites into orbit.

Gilmore is developing a diversified space services business including rocket and satellite production and launch services from its own facility near Bowen in far north Queensland.

Co-founder and chief executive Adam Gilmour said: “This investment will allow us to enhance Australia’s sovereign space and defence capabilities, onshore more manufacturing and to hire and upskill even more Queenslanders.

“Our vision is for rockets made and launched in Queensland, carrying satellites and other payloads to space for our global customers.”

QIC manages the Queensland state government’s Business Innovation Fund which made its initial investment in Gilmour in 2021. Since then, Gilmour has created more than 100 jobs across various locations in Queensland and it plans to increase its total number of employees to more than 300 by mid-2007.

QIC Private Equity investment director Patrick Christiansen believes Gilmour’s ability to compete as a full-stack launch services provider will be a strong value proposition for an underserviced segment of the global space market.

He said: “Growing sovereign capabilities in Australian aerospace is often talked about, but it’s Adam and his team knuckling down and making it happen. Never has an Australian-made, Australian-owned rocket launched into orbit, and we join the nation in eager anticipation.”

Blackbird partner and co-founder Rick Baker said: “When we first invested in Gilmour, the team had just produced a ten-centimetre diameter hybrid rocket engine. It was a cute little thing that produced a fierce little flame but the ambition and Adam and the team had to build a full-scale rocket was clear. The achievements of the team in taking that technology through years of testing and iteration are coming to a head now.

“This funding round will allow Gilmour to attempt multiple launches and become the first Australian-built rocket to get to orbit.”

Gilmour’s Eris orbital launch vehicle is a three-stage rocket capable of launching small satellites into low earth orbits. A first Eris is anticipated in coming months dependent on approval from the Australian Space Agency. The company plans to carry out its first commercial satellite launch before the end of the year.

Image: Chief executive Adam Gilmour with Gilmour Space Technologies’ Eris orbital rocket.