SINGAPORE (Feb 25): Adam Gilmour had been a banker for more than 20 years when he left his job in 2012 to realise his boyhood dream of developing space technology, especially rockets. “As a kid, I would play with LEGO Space all the time,” Gilmour tells The Edge Singapore in an interview.

Today, the CEO and co-founder of Gilmour Space Technologies leads a team that designs and builds hybrid rockets, which he claims are cheaper, more environmentally friendly and safer. This is because the company’s hybrid-propellant rockets — unlike most commercial rockets in operation today — use a liquid oxidiser and a proprietary solid fuel. This overcomes long-standing performance issues with traditional hybrid rockets, especially explosions.

Gilmour Space’s rockets will be carrying a payload — such as a satellite — into space. While the company’s rockets have yet to be commercialised, test performances of its engines have shown promise. In late 2017, Gilmour Space conducted two successful ground engine tests, one of which was a low-pressure testfire that generated 45 kilonewtons (over 10,100 pounds-force) of thrust. This was improved upon by another ground test early last year that recorded 70 kilonewtons, or 15,700 pounds-force of thrust. Subsequently, the company achieved 80 kilonewtons, or 18,000 pounds-force of thrust, from a 17-second test-fire of its orbital-class rocket engine.

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