Rocket Engine Factory—A Visit to Ursa Major Technologies

Unlike many “new space” companies which take an approach of vertical integration in development of launcher or satellite systems, Ursa Major Technologies, located in the U.S. state of Colorado, concentrates exclusively on development and manufacturing of rocket engines, which it sells to a variety of commercial and government customers for booster, upper stage, and atmospheric hypersonic propulsion.

All of the company’s engines are closed cycle (staged combustion) designs, either oxygen-rich or full-flow, use copper alloy components, are largely (around 80% by mass) produced by additive manufacturing (3D printing), and are reusable. Propellants are liquid oxygen/kerosene, liquid oxygen/methane, and hydrogen peroxide/kerosene.

Its first product, the 22 kN (5000 lbf) Hadley engine, is in limited rate production, while the 222 kN (50,000 lbf) Ripley upper stage engine, 890 kN (200,000 lbf) Arroway booster engine, and 18 kN (4000 lbf) Draper hypersonic engine are in various stages of development.