Space propulsion startup Ursa Major has announced its entry into the solid rocket motor market with Lynx, a new manufacturing process that will allow for quicker and more flexible production of solid rocket motors (SRMs) than traditional industrial methods.
According to founder and CEO Joe Laurienti, Ursa Major has been working on developing SRMs for about two years now and received a demand signal from the Department of Defense (DoD) in summer 2021. The DoD had been impressed with Ursa Major’s work on hypersonics and space technology and wanted to know what the company thought about the solid rocket motor market.
The need for more SRMs stems from the broader industrial base’s requirement to equip allies and maintain a large enough US stockpile to deter adversaries such as China. Unlike traditional methods, Ursa Major is approaching this problem differently by building SRMs quickly in a factory that can be easily reconfigured to work on different types of motors. Lynx, which is the manufacturing process being used by Ursa Major rather than an individual motor, will use additive manufacturing to speed up production significantly.
With Lynx, a single 3D printer will be able to produce 1,650 SRMs per year for some smaller motors. Additive manufacturing also provides flexibility to build multiple platforms such as Stinger, Javelin, or a man-portable air-defense system on a single machine in quick succession.
While Lynx marks a shift towards solid rocket motors for Ursa Major, it does not mean the company is abandoning its space or hypersonic pursuits altogether. Laurienti stated that the company plans to continue both areas of research and development while leveraging lessons learned from building SRMs that could help improve its space activities.