Rocket Propulsion Company, America Makes Extend Partnership

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A Denver-based company that uses additive manufacturing to produce rocket propulsion components announced today that it has extended its partnership with America Makes.

Ursa Major, which operates a laboratory at the Youngstown Business Incubator, said it has received additional funding from America Makes and will continue the partnership until mid-2024. The new agreement allows Ursa Major to transition from 3D printing prototypes to printing production and engine qualification hardware, the company said.

The company and America Makes began their relationship in 2021 with the establishment of the Ursa Major Advanced Manufacturing Lab in Youngstown. The lab created an additive manufacturing capability for GRCop-42, an alloy developed by NASA. The company produced prototype thrust chambers for the vacuum variant of the Hadley liquid rocket engine.  

“Our Advanced Manufacturing Lab is critical to Ursa Major’s additive manufacturing capabilities, which accelerate engine production timelines,” said Brad Appel, chief technology officer at Ursa Major. “With our resources in Youngstown, we can reduce the production and delivery cycle for combustion chambers from six months to one month.”

“Ursa Major has been a great addition to our Youngstown ecosystem. We are excited to continue our collaboration on improving producibility and lead time reduction of defense industrial base relevant parts,” said John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes.

GRCop-42, part of a family of NASA-developed alloys, is used in high-heat applications such as liquid rocket engine combustion devices because of its high conductivity and strength. Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, allows Ursa Major to speed up engine production and apply improvements gleaned from testing in real time, which results in lower costs. Ursa Major’s rocket engines are more than 80% 3D printed.

In July 2022, Ursa Major shipped its first rocket engine parts printed in Youngstown.

As the first American company to fire an oxygen-rich staged combustion engine – a milestone previously achieved only by Russian engine makers – Ursa Major provides reusable, high-performing propulsion systems to commercial space enterprises, defense contractors and launch, hypersonics and national security missions.

America Makes is the nation’s leading public-private partnership for additive manufacturing. Created in 2012, the organization served as the pilot for the Manufacturing USA program – a network of advanced manufacturing hubs across the United States.

Pictured at top: A Hadley engine with a copper combustion chamber, printed in Youngstown during a hotfire test.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.