Queensland government refuels rocket builder Gilmour Space in $55 million Series D

- February 19, 2024 2 MIN READ
Gilmour Space CEO Adam Gilmour with an Eris rocket designed and build by the space tech startup
Gold Coast-based Gilmour Space Technologies has raised $55 million in a Series D ahead of a maiden launch in Queensland later this year.  

The raise was led by the state government-backed Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), an existing investor, alongside VCs Blackbird and Main Sequence, plus superannuation funds HostPlus and HESTA.

The cash will fund the manufacture, test and launch of the space-tech startup’s sovereign-made rockets and satellites to orbit.  

Gilmour are building a space services platform, including rocket and satellite production, and launch services from their Bowen Orbital Spaceport in North Queensland. 

The VC-backed space tech startup, previously raised $61 million in a Series C in June 2021, backed by Blackbird and Main Sequence, is developing environmentally friendly Australian rockets to launch spacecraft into low earth orbit, taking taking off from the Bowen Orbital Spaceport Gilmour has developed in Queensland.

The Eris Orbital Launch Vehicle is a three-stage rocket capable of launching small satellites into low earth orbits. The inaugural launch is planned for the second half of 2024 pending launch approvals from the Australian Space Agency. 

Cofounder and CEO Adam Gilmour said the firepower the funding delivers will ensure the business can meet its milestones over the medium term and leverage more immediate opportunities in Australia and abroad.

“Our team is fortunate to be backed by high-calibre investors whose unwavering support has led to the  development of Australia’s first orbital rocket, built by an Australian-owned company, and supported by a  local space supply chain,” he 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, and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of QIC in helping us realise that vision.”  

Since QIC’s original Business Investment Fund investment in 2021, Gilmour has created more than 100 jobs and plans to increase its total headcount to over 300 by mid-2027.  

QIC private equity investment director Patrick Christiansen said 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. 

“Growing sovereign capabilities in Australian aerospace is often talked about, but it’s Adam and his team  knuckling down and making it happen,” he said.  

“Never has an Australian-made, Australian-owned rocket launched into orbit, and we join the nation in eager  anticipation as all eyes turn to Bowen for history to be written.” 

Blackbird cofounding partner Rick Baker said the Gilmour Space team has come a long way since the VC first invested and they’d just produced a 10cm-diameter hybrid rocket engine.

“It was a cute little thing that produced a fierce little flame, but the ambition of Adam and the team to build a  full-scale rocket was clear,” he said.

“The achievements of the team in taking that technology through years of testing and iteration are coming to a head now. “

The 10-year-old space company has now raised $142 million in total, including a $19 million Series B in 2018.

In 2022, the federal government awarded Gilmour Space a $52 million Modern Manufacturing Initiative Collaboration grant for rocket launching ambitions as part of collaborative project bringing together more than 30 local space tech startups, and universities.