DENVER – Adranos, a startup that manufactures solid rocket motors, announced April 26 it has closed a $20 million Series A funding round. 

Based in West Lafayette, Indiana, Adranos was founded in 2015 by former Purdue University aerospace engineer Brandon Terry and Chris Stoker. The company manufactures solid rocket motor propulsion systems for hypersonic boosters, tactical missiles and space launch vehicles. 

The funding round was led by Impala Asset Management’s Bob Bishop with participation from Explorer1 Fund, Elevate Ventures and Specific Impulse Capital. 

The fundraising was spurred by Adranos’ successful tests of its proprietary aluminum-lithium alloy fuel called ALITEC. The fuel was tested on tactical missile-sized solid rocket motors under a program jointly funded by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force.

“In 2019, we conducted flight tests under an Army program, demonstrating that motors utilizing ALITEC fuel could increase the range of a missile system by nearly 40 percent while keeping other variables constant,” said Brandon Terry, chief technology officer. 

In 2021, the company tested much larger motors and they performed successfully, Terry said. The tests were conducted at Adranos’ coastal Mississippi facility known as the Mississippi Rocket Complex.

“We see significant market potential for Adranos in defense and space,” said Bob Bishop, founder of Impala Asset Management and longtime investor in defense and aerospace companies. He said Adranos is in a position to become a new solid rocket motor supplier to prime contractors building missiles, hypersonic boosters and other defense systems. Other potential customers are small launch companies looking at using solid boosters to increase the performance of their launch vehicles.

Solid rocket motors is one sector of the defense industrial base where the Pentagon worries that there are not enough domestic sources.

Currently only Northrop Grumman and Aerojet Rocketdyne are supplying solid rocket motors to the U.S. Defense Department.

“We are seeing tremendous interest and demand from defense primes and commercial aerospace companies,” said Michael Grasso, Adranos’ vice president of space systems. “Additionally, the U.S. government views the limited number of firms in the energetics space as a weakness, and our entry will add further resiliency and capability that our nation can rely on.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...