A Singapore start-up company is the first in the world to use 3D printed rocket fuel. They managed to successfully launch a self-made rocket in Australia.
Gilmour Space Technologies successfully launched a self-made 3.6m rocket two weeks ago in Queensland. They used 3D printed rocket fuel. With this technique, they hope to drastically reduce future costs for rocket launches.
Michelle Gilmour co-founded the start-up with her husband Adam four years ago, after they quit their banking jobs. She said: “Dual material 3D printers are in use today, but they are small with limited choices in terms of materials.”
To solve this problem, the team has designed a 3D printer for this purpose which is currently a prototype and patent-pending. Gilmour said: “Our proprietary rocket fuel cannot be printed with existing 3D printers.” So don’t bother trying this at home.
Gilmour Space Technologies aim to provide rockets to carry small loads of satellites for sub-orbital experiments within the next 18 months by building a larger commercial version of their current 3D printer.
The Brains Behind the Breakthrough in 3D Printing Fuel
To bring this idea to life, a team of seven researchers work at the campus of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) where Gilmour Space Technologies’ office is based. Researchers and engineers in the company are also SUTD graduates. Gilmour said: “SUTD is key to this success. They are involved in many aspects of our business.”
In order to have been able to afford to create this world first, the start-up received money from the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster. The Cluster was formed last September by Spring Singapore and the National Research Foundation to help companies develop capabilities in 3D printing.
After the recent success of the company, Gilmour Space Technologies have been looking to the future and are planning to create larger rockets. These rockets will carry orbital satellites with the price of each launch starting from US5 million as opposed to the US$15 million it costs today.
Gilmour said: “We think the space industry is going through a renaissance. There are more and more uses being developed for space satellites in areas such as earth observation, global communication systems and asteroid mining.”
(Source: Straits Times)
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