Gilmour Space partners with Equipmake on EV tech for rocket program

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Media Release by Gilmour Space

Global electrification specialist Equipmake has been selected by  Australia’s leading space company, Gilmour Space Technologies, to support its commercial space rocket programme with the supply of advanced electric motors and inverters.

Led by former F1 engineer Ian Foley, Equipmake has forged its reputation by developing advanced EV technology for automotive OEMs and specialist supercar manufacturers, offering a complete suite of solutions from electric motors to power electronic systems to complete EV drivetrains for buses.

Based in Norfolk, UK, Equipmake has rapidly expanded its operations into the aerospace, agriculture, marine, mining and off-highway sectors and is now set to take another giant leap – into space – by partnering with Queensland, Australia-based Gilmour Space.

The venture-capital-backed company specialises in developing lower-cost solutions, most notably an innovative hybrid propulsion system, for launching small satellites into orbit. Having conducted its first hybrid rocket test flight in 2016 and signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in 2018 to collaborate on various space research, development and education initiatives, Gilmour Space began looking for a partner to design, engineer and supply a bespoke electric motor and inverter system to integrate with its orbital-class Eris rocket engines.

The project requirement parameters are ultra-demanding. Among others, they must be exceptionally lightweight yet highly robust, capable of surviving the intense forces of launch and performing flawlessly in the vacuum of space.

Equipmake and Gilmour Space began work on the project in late 2020. Having already developed a range of high-power density motors, Equipmake was able to call upon its considerable experience in weight-reducing technology to reach Gilmour Space’s stringent requirements for power and weight.

The electric motor’s rotor uses Equipmake’s proprietary rotor design, where the permanent magnets are arranged like the spokes of a wheel to deliver a significant performance advantage in a very challenging operating environment.

Ian Foley, Managing Director, Equipmake said: “It is an honour to have been chosen by a company of the calibre and ambition of Gilmour Space to assist in providing technical solutions for its innovative hybrid rocket launch programme. Developing the extremely lightweight, exceptionally high-energy-density electric motor and inverter unit was one of the most challenging and most exciting projects we have undertaken at Equipmake.

“Our EV technology is bringing a step change to the world’s most advanced electric cars and buses, as well as in marine, off-highway and mining. However, space represents a completely new sector. The endeavour is one which Equipmake’s 45-strong team relished. With the support of the engineers at Gilmour, we delivered the required technical solution, and now look forward to the launch of the first Gilmour Space commercial Eris rocket in 2023.”

Adam Gilmour, Chief Executive Officer, Gilmour Space said: “It goes without saying that delivering rockets into space is an exceptionally demanding exercise, which allows for little margin for error. The team at Equipmake has been great to work with in regard to their flexible, agile approach and ‘can-do’ attitude to completing the design, build and test of this new electric motor.

“We’ve come a long way at Gilmour Space to develop Australia’s first orbital launch capability, and our team is very excited to see Eris launch to space next year.”