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

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

Press Release From: Ursa Major
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Ursa Major, America’s only independent pure-play rocket propulsion company today announced the delivery of “Hadley” engines to two different customers for very different applications—hypersonics and space launch. Hadley is an American-made 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 company milestone comes 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.

“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,” said Joe Laurienti, founder and CEO of Ursa Major. “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.”

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. 

By making flexible rocket engines that can be used for multiple purposes, Ursa Major helps 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, Ursa Major is helping shape the modern space economy with entrepreneurial thinking and innovation.

“Hadley’s greatest strength is that she simply exists,” said Silas Meriam, senior test operations engineer, Ursa Major. “No one else is making engines with 5,000 pounds of thrust at this level of reliability—and they’re available now.”

Because Hadley is mostly 3D-printed, Ursa Major 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 Ursa Major’s 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 Ursa Major 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. Further, this test data is more representative of the actual flight environment and less expensive than ground-based wind tunnel testing. The cumulative result is higher performing, more reliable hypersonics technology, produced quickly and efficiently at a lower cost.

“Ursa Major and its peers are driving significant advancements in many sectors across the new space economy,” continued Laurienti. “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.”

On February 4, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held a meeting with top Pentagon leaders and several large defense company CEOs about the country’s lagging hypersonics technology. The meeting focused on lack of sufficient testing infrastructure in the U.S., specifically wind tunnels.

Read more about Hadley and other Ursa Major engines here.

About Ursa Major

Ursa Major is America’s only independent pure-play rocket propulsion company, bringing high-performance, oxygen-rich staged combustion engines to market for space launch and hypersonic applications. Ursa Major customers, ranging from “new space” startups to enterprise-level aerospace leaders and the U.S. government, get to launch faster, more reliably, and cost-effectively. The company employs the most sought-after engineers from top space programs and universities and is backed by world-class investors including XN and Explorer 1 Fund. Headquartered in Lafayette and Berthoud, Colorado, Ursa Major was named one of the best places to work by Built in Colorado for two years in a row. For more information, visit

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