Space propulsion startup Ursa Major is expanding its offerings to include solid rocket motors. The company, known for its expertise in hypersonic technology and rocket engines, announced Lynx, a new approach to manufacturing solid rocket motors more quickly and flexibly than traditional industrial methods.
Ursa Major founder and CEO Joe Laurienti said the company had been exploring the solid rocket motor space for about two years before receiving a demand signal from the Department of Defense (DoD) in summer 2021. The DoD expressed interest in Ursa Major’s work on hypersonics and space, and asked about the company’s thoughts on the solid rocket motor market.
Laurienti explained that Ursa Major saw a need in the broader industrial base to produce more solid rocket motors (SRMs) to equip allies and maintain a large enough US stockpile to deter adversaries, such as China. To meet this demand, the company is taking a different approach by building SRMs quickly in a factory that can be easily reconfigured to work on different types of motors.
The manufacturing process Ursa Major is using is called Lynx, which uses additive manufacturing to speed up production significantly. With Lynx, a single 3D printer can pump out 1,650 motors per year for some smaller SRMs. This approach allows for flexibility to build multiple platforms from Stinger to Javelin to a man-portable air-defense system on a single machine in quick succession.
Despite this expansion into solid rocket motors, Laurienti emphasized that Ursa Major is not abandoning its focus on space or hypersonics entirely. The company will continue to work on both areas while leveraging lessons learned from the rigorous qualifications process and streamlined production line required for building SRMs that could help its space pursuits.