Space propulsion startup Ursa Major is expanding its horizons beyond hypersonic tech and rocket engines, as the company announced its entry into the solid rocket motor market. The company’s latest product, Lynx, promises to revolutionize the way solid rocket motors are manufactured by allowing for faster and more flexible production than traditional industrial methods.
Ursa Major CEO Joe Laurienti explained that the company had been looking at solid rocket motor technology for about two years now, with a demand signal from the Department of Defense (DoD) in summer 2021 prompting them to explore this new frontier. The need for more solid rocket motors (SRMs) was driven by the broader industrial base’s desire to equip allies and maintain a large enough US stockpile to deter adversaries such as China.
Laurienti said that Ursa Major was approaching SRM production differently by building them quickly in a factory that can be easily reconfigured to work on different types of motors. Lynx, which is not an individual motor but rather a manufacturing process, will use additive manufacturing to speed up production and boost flexibility. With additive manufacturing, a single 3D printer can produce 1,650 SRMs per year for some smaller models. This means that Ursa Major will be able to manufacture SRMs much faster than traditional methods while also being able to produce multiple platforms on the same machine in quick succession.
While Lynx doesn’t mean that Ursa Major is abandoning space or hypersonics entirely, it does indicate that the company is diversifying its portfolio of products. Laurienti noted that some lessons learned during the rigorous qualifications process and streamlined production line required for building SRMs could help improve space pursuits at Ursa Major. In other words, this new venture could have benefits beyond just producing more SRMs for defense purposes; it could also help advance space exploration and hypersonic technology further.