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Ursa Major Delivers First-Ever Rocket Engines Qualified for Both Hypersonics and Space Launch Applications


In March, we announced the delivery of our "Hadley" engines to two different customers for different applications. Hadley is the first engine in history to be qualified for both hypersonics and space launch.  

Hadley is an oxygen-rich staged combustion engine, the type of system preferred by the world's most advanced space programs. The engine is now in full production, with 30 expected to be delivered this year.  

This important milestone came amid concerns that the United States has fallen behind Russia and China's hypersonics capabilities. Additionally, much of the rocket propulsion in the U.S. has previously come from Russia or Ukraine, and Russia recently announced that it would no longer sell its engines to the U.S.  

Joe Laurienti, our founder and CEO said, “Delivering Hadley engines to customers who will use them for very different purposes shows the Ursa Major business model in action—higher performing engines, more of them, delivered quickly at less than half the cost. By freeing launch companies from the expense and difficulty of building their own engines or buying sub-par technology from other countries, Ursa Major will accelerate the number and frequency of successful launches across sectors."  

An Ursa Major 'Hadley' engine being prepared for shipping.
An Ursa Major 'Hadley' engine being prepared for shipping.

Space Entrepreneurship is Growing

Phantom Space, a space technology and transportation company, will use Hadley to power its two-stage expendable rocket, which transports satellites and other space cargo into Earth orbit and beyond.

Stratolaunch, an aerospace vehicles and technology company, will use Hadley to power its reusable hypersonic testbed vehicle, which is designed to reach Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound.

As America’s only pure-play rocket propulsion company, we are changing the landscape of the space industry. By making flexible rocket engines that can be used for multiple purposes, we help customers get to launch three times faster at a low price and without the development cost of building engines in-house. By supporting other aerospace startups, we are helping shape the modern space economy with entrepreneurial thinking and innovation.

We love what senior test operations engineer Silas Meriam said about Hadley. “Hadley's greatest strength is that she simply exists," he said. "No one else is making engines with 5,000 pounds of thrust at this level of reliability—and they're available now."

Test Operations Manager Chaka Smith examines a ‘Hadley’ engine
Test Operations Manager Chaka Smith examines a ‘Hadley’ engine

Hadley Engine Offers Multiple Benefits

Because Hadley is mostly 3D-printed, we can make data-driven design improvements and manufacture them essentially in real-time.

  • Hadley highlights:

  • Can be used in first stage, upper stage, and hypersonic applications

  • More than 30,000 seconds of run-time at our own facilities

  • Sufficient engine life to support pre-flight ground testing or static-fire testing, as well as flight, without additional modifications or inspections

  • Wide range of customizable throttle levels and thrust profiles to meet customer needs

  • Seven-degree thrust vectoring provides more control and maneuverability for typical flights, and may also enable vertical landing and return-to-launch-site burns, among other capabilities

The commercial availability of our engines allows customers to develop flying hypersonic testbeds, which minimizes the need for large, expensive, and notoriously scarce wind tunnels.

Without the testing bottleneck created by wind tunnels, hypersonics companies can conduct more tests and generate more data, which significantly accelerates the development process and fuels innovation. Not to mention that this test data is more representative of the actual flight environment and less expensive than ground-based wind tunnel testing. The result is higher performing, more reliable hypersonics technology, produced quickly and efficiently at a lower cost.

Joe continued, "Ursa Major and its peers are driving significant advancements in many sectors across the new space economy. Our propulsion systems and proprietary testing platform are already empowering Ursa Major commercial customers to reach their goals. We stand ready to support our government's efforts to reestablish U.S. global leadership in space technology as well."

Read more about Hadley and other Ursa Major engines here.

Ursa Major Staff - Launch-Ready Propulsion for every sector of aerospace

Seeing aerospace advancement as a technological imperative, we’re accelerating the industry as the leading source of world-class propulsion systems.


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