iRocket, the Innovative Rocket Technologies Inc., has been granted an additional $1.8 million in funding by the U.S. Space Force to further develop its reusable rocket engine. This funding comes as part of a Phase II SBIR contract and is supported by AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of the Air Force.
iRocket is currently working on the Shockwave launch vehicle, which is designed for frequent reuse. Under a previous contract, the company demonstrated three operation modes of its booster engine: augmented, unaugmented, and landing mode. This engine allows for both the first and second stages of the Shockwave launch vehicle, including the fairing, to be landed and immediately reused.
With the new contract, iRocket will conduct a full-duration static fire test lasting 120-180 seconds to showcase its reusable engine’s 35,000 lbs. thrust. The engine runs on a combination of liquid oxygen (LOX) and methane fuel.
Asad Malik, the founder and CEO of iRocket, expressed his belief that this contract extension is a testament to the value their technology brings to national security missions. He stated that AFWERX’s mission is to leverage innovation from private sector companies like iRocket to benefit the Space Force. The company’s launcher aims to address the need for lower launch costs and increased operational tempo in delivering assets to orbit.
iRocket plans to launch its first vehicle in late 2027.