Ursa Major recently received funding to develop Draper, a 4,000-pound-thrust closed catalyst engine specifically designed for hypersonics. Its design is based on our Hadley engine but with defense applications top-of-mind.
“Responsive launch is enabled by the fact that Draper's hydrogen peroxide fuel is easily storable … which cuts down prelaunch logistics,” Joe Laurienti, Ursa Major’s CEO, told Breaking Defense. As stated in Defense News, “Draper would continue [Hadley’s] work but use a different liquid propellant that’s more storable … allowing the reusable engine to be operated safely from more locations.”
Politico explained applications enabled by a storable engine, “because the hydrogen peroxide-fueled engine is equipped with a storable propellant it can be launched ‘on-demand’ allowing the Pentagon to test counter-hypersonic technology more often.” Draper can “simulate a single Russian cruise missile, but also a fleet of Russian, Chinese, or North Korean adversarial hypersonic capabilities,” Bloomberg noted in an interview with Joe.
With Draper, Ursa Major will help the United States accelerate hypersonic technology. Joe told Inside Defense, “The purpose of this product that we're developing is rapid, low-cost test flights of hypersonics. It's everything from just simulating adversarial capabilities for ground-based, space-based, air-based detection systems to aerial targets. The broader market signals that excite us here are that the U.S. doesn't have a hypersonic aerial target.” With Draper, the United States has the opportunity to perform more hypersonic test flights, helping to make our country truly competitive.
This hypersonic testing application provides a strong value proposition to the production of Draper. As Aviation Week noted, our funding “follows a series of news reports about systemic flaws that have restrained testing of hypersonic weapons needed to support the military’s plans for production and fielding of the high-speed missiles.” Inside Defense echoed this sentiment, highlighting Ursa Major’s hope to address the lack of a hypersonics defense industrial base in the United States.
Space News described our outlook for the next year in addition to the production of Draper, mentioning plans to move lightspeed ahead “to build a dedicated test stand for Draper” and, as noted by CNBC, “to test fire the engine within a year.”