Ursa Major makes rocket engine deal with Air Force

Capitalism in space: Ursa Major announced today that the Air Force has awarded it a contract to test and qualify its Hadley rocket engines for future military space missions.

Ursa Major will also be providing the Air Force Research Lab with statistically significant data sets from extensive testing of multiple Hadley engines, including measurements of specific impulse, or ISP, combustion stability, vibration and shock profiles, and range of inlet pressures and temperatures.

Hadley will be qualified using similar metrics according to an internal test plan based on industry guidelines and best practices, focusing on engine life, operating space, functional requirements, and performance. The qualification test campaign under this effort will include runtime at and beyond the extremes of the power level and mixture ratio targets, demonstrating that Hadley operates safely and reliably within the power level and mixture ratio required for missions of DOD interest.

Ursa Major was founded by the engineers who developed SpaceX’s Merlin engine. It has already won a number of rocket engine contracts, including an order for 200 Hadley engines from rocket startup Phantom Space., and a contract with Northrop Grumman to replace the Russian-built engines on its Antares rocket with Ursa Major’s larger Arroway engine. [Ed: Ursa Major doesn’t have this contract, Firefly does. Ursa Major’s Arroway is simply comparable and competitive for the same business.]

Getting the Hadley engine certified by the Air Force will instantly make this engine more appealing to numerous rocket companies. In fact, it will make Ursa Major as a company more appealing. If this certification moves forward quickly, expect the Air Force to follow with a certification program for the larger Arroway engine. And if that occurs this engine might supplant other engines produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne and Blue Origin, especially because it appears that Ursa Major is using the same manufacturing philosophies of SpaceX, focusing not so much on design as assembly-line manufacturing, as shown by its 200 engine contract with Phantom.

Thus, it appears focused on producing many engines at less cost, and quickly.

Startup rocket company begins delivering engines

Capitalism in space: The startup rocket company, Ursa Major, announced today that it has completed qualification tests of its new Hadley rocket engine and has begun delivering flight worthy engines to two different companies.

Startup Ursa Major announced Wednesday that it had completed qualification of its Hadley rocket engine for use by both a space launch vehicle and a hypersonic launch system. The Colorado-based company said it has already started delivering flight-ready Hadley engines to two customers, Phantom Space and Stratolaunch, and plans to produce a total of 30 engines this year.

The engine is relatively small compared to most rocket engines. Phantom will use seven in the first stage of its smallsat Daytona rocket, designed to launch cubesats into orbit. What Stratolaunch will use the engine for is unclear.