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Air Force awards Ursa Major rocket engine development contact

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded the rocket engine startup Ursa Major a contract to develop two different rocket engines.

Under the contract, the Colorado-based firm will build and test a prototype of its new Draper engine for hypersonics, and further develop its 200,000-pound thrust Arroway engine for space launch.

…Under the AFRL contract, for which neither the lab or company provided a value, Ursa Major will also build a dedicated test stand for Draper and plans to hotfire the engine within 12 months.

Arroway, on the other hand, is a reusable liquid oxygen and methane staged combustion engine for medium and heavy launch vehicles. Ursa Major first announced development the 200,000-pound thrust engine last August, explaining that when clustered together, Arroway engines could replace the Russian-made RD-180 and RD-181, which are no longer available to US launch firms.

According to Ursa Major’s press release, the AFRL contract will allow further development of Arroway with a hotfire expected in 2025.

Ursa Major already has several contracts for its smaller Hadley engine, from the rocket startups Phantom, Vector, Astra, and the Air Force, and has built more than a hundred so far. The Arroway meanwhile is being developed as an American replacement for the Russian engines used by Northrop Grumman in its Antares rocket.

All in all, it appears Ursa Major is becoming a major challenger to Aerojet Rocketdyne, which in recent years had a lock on most government contracts for rocket engines. That lock resulted in very expensive engines that took years to build. The government (and others) are now finding someone else to provide this service at a better cost and far more quickly. We shall see whether Aerojet Rocketdyne responds to this competition properly, or goes the way of the horse carriage.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

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