WASHINGTON — Evolution Space, a startup developing solid rocket motors, has signed an agreement to establish production and testing operations at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

The company announced Oct. 10 that is reached an agreement with Stennis set up a production facility at the former Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant, which Stennis acquired in 2011 after its deactivation by the U.S. Army.

Evolution Space expects to start production of solid rocket motors there in the second quarter of 2024 at what will be called the Minor Scale Propulsion Center. The company will also test those motors at Stennis’s E-3 Test Complex. The agreement includes support for future expansion.

“By partnering with NASA, we are able to rapidly stand up a facility which will add considerable capability to the U.S. solid rocket motor industrial base,” said Manny Ballestero, vice president of production and development at Evolution Space, in a statement.

Evolution Space has been developing solid rocket motors for defense and commercial applications. The company successfully flew those motors on suborbital launches in the spring from the Mojave Desert and from a floating platform in the Gulf of Mexico that served as a demonstration of sea-based launch sites being developed by The Spaceport Company.

Evolution Space also announced it closed a bridge funding round to allow it to proceed with its work at Stennis while it works on a separate Series A round. A company spokesperson said the size of the round was $1.2 million, but that the company could not disclose the investors who participated in the round.

While Stennis is a center for liquid-propellant rocket engine testing for NASA and several companies, Evolution Space is the first company working on solid rocket motors to establish a presence at Stennis.

“Evolution Space gains access to critical NASA Stennis infrastructure and expertise as it continues to build its propulsion capabilities. In turn, we continue frontline work with commercial companies as we support NASA’s commitment to increase access to space and grow our federal city,” Rick Gilbrech, director of the Stennis Space Center, said in a NASA statement.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...