WASHINGTON — Rocket propulsion startup Ursa Major announced Aug. 2 that it has received additional funding from America Makes to produce 3D printed engine hardware. 

America Makes, a DoD-funded institute based in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2021 awarded Ursa Major $3 million for the company’s 3D manufacturing lab. The new agreement is worth about $1.2 million.

Ursa Major is a venture-funded maker of rocket engines for small and medium launch vehicles. The company manufactures engines in Berthoud, Colorado, and has a 3D printing manufacturing lab in Youngstown.

America Makes is a public-private partnership established in 2012 to help accelerate U.S. industrial competitiveness through the adoption of additive manufacturing.

Agreement extended until mid-2024

“Ursa Major and America Makes will continue their partnership through mid-2024 and transition from printing prototypes to printing production and engine qualification hardware,” said Brad Appel, Ursa Major’s chief technology officer. 

Using 3D printing, he said, “we can reduce the production and delivery cycle for combustion chambers from six months to one month.”

Ursa Major said its rocket engines are more than 80 percent 3D printed by mass. At the Youngstown lab the company makes copper alloy-based engine components for space launch and hypersonic applications.

The company said it is producing about 30 5,000-pound thrust Hadley engines a year for the U.S. Air Force and several commercial customers, including small launcher startup Phantom Space and Stratolaunch.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is supporting the development of Arroway, a reusable liquid oxygen and methane staged combustion engine for medium and heavy launch vehicles, expected to hotfire in 2025.

The engine was introduced in August 2022 with the goal of supporting next-generation heavy launch.

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...