Ursa Major announces new rocket engine to replace what Russia previously provided

Capitalism in space: The new rocket engine company Ursa Major yesterday announced a new more powerful rocket engine, dubbed Arroway, designed to replace rocket engines that Russia had been selling.

Arroway is a 200,000-pound thrust liquid oxygen and methane staged combustion engine that will serve markets including current U.S. national security missions, commercial satellite launches, orbital space stations, and future missions not yet conceived. The reusable Arroway engine is available for order now, slated for initial hot-fire testing in 2023, and delivery in 2025.

Notably, Arroway engines will be one of very few commercially available engines that, when clustered together, can displace the Russian-made RD-180 and RD-181, which are no longer available to U.S. launch companies.

Arroway could replace the RD-181 engines that Northrop Grumman uses on the first stage of its Antares rocket. Both engines are comparable in size. However, with Arroway available no sooner than ’25 it still will leave a gap, since right now the company only has enough stock on hand to launch two more rockets, both of which should launch before ’24.

Arroway is also about half as powerful as Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine, so if ULA wishes to use it in its Vulcan rocket a major redesign would be required.

Either way, Ursa Major is demonstrating here again the value of freedom and competition, as well as the foolishness and negative consequences of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. In response to the international sanctions against it, Russia blocked future rocket engine sales to the U.S. Not only did that not get the sanctions lifted, Russia is now losing that U.S. business, as other American companies are stepping up to replace it.