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Former Space X engineer’s startup raises $138M to navigate US recovery amid Ukraine’s missile arsenal impact


The scrutiny of the United States’ arsenal of weapons, munitions, and components intensifies as the Pentagon consistently provides military assistance to Ukraine, especially concerning items dependent on solid rocket motors. Notably, the transfer of weapons to Ukraine, such as Javelin anti-tank weapons, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets, and Stinger missiles, has led to a depletion of US stockpiles.

To address the issue, Ursa Major, America’s privately funded company focused solely on rocket propulsion, announced that it closed $138 million in its Series D and D-1 funding rounds. The investments were led by Explorer 1 Fund and Eclipse, and include RTX Ventures (the VC arm of defence tech giant Raytheon), funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Exor Ventures, Mack & Co., LLC, XN, and other institutional shareholders. 

With this investment, Ursa Major will continue to develop Lynx, the company’s innovative new solid rocket motor (SRM) program, while scaling production capacity and advancing multiple propulsion programs. While the initial Series D round was completed earlier in the year, Ursa Major extended fundraising to include a Series D-1 round due to strong interest in accelerating the development of several future programs.

Since its last round of funding, the rocket engine startup has responded to deficiencies in the nation’s defence capabilities by introducing Draper, a revolutionary new storable liquid engine designed to defend against hypersonic weapons, and Lynx, a new solution for designing and manufacturing solid rocket motors for tactical applications.

Founders’ goals

Founded in 2015 by former SpaceX and Blue Origin propulsion engineer Joe Laurienti, Ursa Major has been pushing aerospace and defense forward ever since.

The Colorado-based startup has also redesigned and hot-fired the 50,000-pound-thrust Ripley engine, scaled production of the 5,000-pound-thrust Hadley engine to a rate of one per week, and qualified Hadley as the world’s first and only rocket engine for space launch, in-space, and hypersonic missions.

Additionally, Ursa Major has applied the lessons learned in liquid rocket engines for space launch to re-imagine solid rocket motor design and manufacturing. With their process, Ursa Major offers a revolutionary solution to America’s SRM shortage with a faster, more affordable process, leveraging 3D printing to manufacture multiple motors that outperform legacy systems.

“In the year since our last funding round, Ursa Major has secured significant commercial and government customers, delivered dozens of flight-ready engines, introduced new engine concepts, and worked to address critical gaps in our nation’s defense. This includes developing Lynx, a line of solid rocket motors that can deliver urgently needed capabilities,” said Ursa Major CEO and founder Joe Laurienti. “This investment will support scaling our production capacity to meet strong market demand, as well as continued technology innovation for our medium- and heavy-weight propulsion systems.”

“Ursa Major propulsion systems fill a critical gap in the defense industrial base today,” said Greg Reichow, Partner at Eclipse and former Vice President of Production at Tesla. “For the U.S. and its allies, the ability to deter threats will depend on our ability to produce innovative solutions utilizing modern manufacturing methods that are not dependent on fragmented supply chains. Ursa Major’s team possesses the technical prowess to deliver the high production rates, low cost, and advanced technology needed to help maintain national security.”

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