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November 29, 2021

ADF-Gilmour partnership develops new material for rocket motor casings

The advanced high-temperature material can be produced using compression moulding.

The partnership between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Gold Coast rocket company Gilmour Space Technologies has developed an advanced high-temperature material.

The space-destined material has been developed for use in Gilmour’s rocket motor casings.

The material is soon to be tested in Gilmour’s rocket test facility in Queensland.

In May 2020, the Australian Department of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology (DT) signed an agreement with Gilmour to jointly research propulsion, materials and avionics technologies among other defence-related technologies to aid in the development of the three-stage hybrid rocket.

Defence researcher Paul Smith said that the material has a high thermal resistance and mechanical strength, adding that it can be used both as a structural component and an insulator.

It has been developed to withstand temperatures of 3,200°C.

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Smith said: “Rocket engines generate significant heat and it’s critical for both rocket performance and avoiding catastrophic failure that the rocket motor casing is capable of withstanding the stresses caused by extreme temperatures and pressures.”

According to Smith, composite materials provide key benefits as rocket motor casings and their sub-components are mainly produced from metal.

Besides usage in rocket motor casing, the material can also be used in other high-temperature applications such as jet engines, heat shields, and furnaces.

Smith added: “Because of their greater strength-to-weight ratio, the use of composite parts can help to reduce weight.

“If we can replace some or all of the metallic components of the rocket motor casing with composite parts, we could significantly increase the range, speed or deliverable payload mass of the rocket.”

Australia’s Space Command is set to commence next year.

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