Space propulsion startup Ursa Major is expanding its offerings to include solid rocket motors. The company, which has long been known for its hypersonic technology and rocket engines, today announced Lynx, a new approach to producing solid rocket motors more quickly and flexibly than traditional industrial methods.
According to Joe Laurienti, founder and CEO of Ursa Major, the company has been exploring the solid rocket motor space for about two years now. In summer 2021, the US Department of Defense approached the company with a demand signal for its expertise in this area. Laurienti said that Ursa Major’s past work on hypersonics and space projects had caught the attention of DoD, which wanted to know what they thought about solid rocket motors.
So why are solid rocket motors? Ursa Major saw a need in the broader industrial base to be able to manufacture more solid rocket motors (SRMs) in order to equip allies and maintain a large enough US stockpile to deter adversaries such as China. However, rather than building individual SRMs, Ursa Major is taking a different approach by using Lynx, a manufacturing process that will allow them to produce SRMs quickly and easily in a factory that can be easily reconfigured for different types of motors.
Lynx is not an individual motor but rather the manufacturing process that Ursa Major is using. It uses additive manufacturing technology to speed up production dramatically so that it can produce upwards of 1650 small SRMs per year using just one 3D printer. This technology allows for greater flexibility in terms of building multiple platforms from Stinger missiles all the way up to man-portable air defense systems on a single machine in quick succession. Laurienti explained that 3D printing allows them to take a complex 30-piece process down from ten steps to just two or three steps.
While Lynx may seem like an entirely new venture for Ursa Major, it doesn’t mean they are abandoning their space pursuits or hypersonics entirely. According to Laurienti, the company will continue with both areas while also utilizing some lessons learned during the rigorous qualifications process and streamlined production line required for building SRMs could help their space endeavors as well.