Ursa Major’s US Air Force contract to develop flight-ready rocket engine for 2022 launch – Reuters
the Great Bear is the only privately funded U.S. company focused solely on rocket propulsion has announced a contract under the U.S. Air Force Tactical Funding Augmentation (TACFI) program. Under the agreement, Ursa Major will supply a 5,000-pound-thrust oxygen-rich staged-combustion “Hadley” rocket engine suitable for both the booster and upper-stage phases of satellite launch in low earth orbit.
Although more difficult to design than other systems, oxygen-rich staged combustion (ORSC) is more efficient for better engine performance and is the architecture preferred by the world’s advanced space programs. This effort continues to build on past investments in ORSC technology by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to provide ORSC systems to the nation.
“We are proud of the Air Force’s continued support and recognition of Ursa Major’s leadership in the development of reliable, high-performance American-made rocket propulsion,” said Ursa Major Founder and CEO Joe Laurienti. “Choosing Ursa Major and the Hadley engine means more American satellites in space, which is more important than ever to our national security and our glory.ball technical leadership.
Hadley was developed by Ursa Major’s team of world-class propulsion experts, who have over 1,000 combined years of collective engine development experience over numerous successful engine launches and programs. Like all Ursa Major engines, Hadley delivers high performance, flexibility and reliability at a significantly lower cost using state-of-the-art manufacturing (3D printing) and a technology-driven, market-driven design approach.
Hadley features active throttle, active thrust vector control and configurable fuel mixture ratio. It is qualified to operate in flight at various power levels and capable of continuous throttle from minimum to nominal flight power level. Ursa Major has already delivered many Hadley engines to customers from its unique 90-acre integrated facility in Colorado, which houses its engineering, manufacturing and testing functions on a single property.
“We selected Ursa Major and its Hadley rocket engine based on the company’s experienced technical and management teams and proven engine performance,” said Shawn Phillips, Head of AFRL’s Rocket Propulsion Division (aka The AFRL Rocket Lab). “This partnership is an example of how the federal government continues to advance research and development by collaborating with our country’s promising entrepreneurs and innovators.
As part of the AFRL contract deliverables, Ursa Major will also provide the Air Force Research Laboratory with statistically significant data sets from extensive testing of multiple Hadley engines, including specific impulse, or ISP, measurements of combustion stability, vibration and shock profiles, and range of inlet pressures and temperatures.
Hadley will be qualified using similar metrics under an internal test plan based on industry guidelines and best practices, focusing on motor life, operating space, functional requirements and performance . The qualification test campaign as part of this effort will include runtime at and beyond the extremes of the power level and mix ratio targets, demonstrating that Hadley operates safely and reliably within the power and mix ratio required for DOD missions of interest.
Reliable rocket propulsion is essential to sustaining the space supply chain and growing the space industry. Ursa Major’s flexible rocket engines can be used for a variety of DOD and non-DOD missions, from air launch to hypersonic flight and in-orbit missions. Enterprise customers can launch faster and without the development costs of building engines in-house. Ursa Major has built and tested more than 50 staged combustion rocket engines and plans to deliver 30 to customers by the end of the year. Ursa Major engines have accumulated more than 50,000 seconds of autonomy.