$138M to Support Ursa Major’s 3D Printed Rocket Engines

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Earlier this year, TechCrunch revealed that Ursa Major Technologies, the Colorado-based startup specializing in using additive manufacturing (AM) for modular rocket engines, had taken in $100 million in its Series D financing round. Now, Ursa Major has announced that it extended the fundraising round to include a Series D-1 round, which landed the company an additional $38 million, bringing the total raised this year to $138 million.

Less than two weeks prior to the announcement, Ursa Major had announced the company’s Lynx platform, for modular 3D printing of solid rocket motors (SRMs). According to Ursa Major’s CEO, Joe Laurienti, supporting the development of Lynx will be one of the primary uses of the Series D-1 funds:

In a press release about Ursa Major’s $38 million in Series D-1 funding, Laurienti said, “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. 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.”

Greg Reichow, a partner at VC firm Eclipse, one of the leads of the Series D and D-1 rounds, said, “Ursa Major propulsion systems fill a critical gap in the defense industrial base today. 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.”

These days, SRMs are most commonly used for man-portable missile systems like Stingers and Javelins. In an interview about the Lynx platform with Ursa Major’s chief operating officer (COO), Nick Doucette, the COO explained, “We’re starting to wake up to the fact that we have to be careful about maintaining the types of manufacturing capabilities the US really needs to continue its position as a world leader.”

The fact that further development of Lynx was the pivotal reason behind Ursa Major’s offering of the Series D-1 round confirms the extent to which decision-makers in the US defense industrial base (DIB) are turning to AM as the central solution to the US’s struggle to reshore manufacturing. A crucial thing to keep in mind is the sheer pace at which this is all happening: those with the responsibility for managing the DIB can’t wait for “perfect” solutions, they can only try to support the best available solutions at any given time.

In that sense, most everyone who follows the advanced manufacturing landscape at this point knows that AM comprises the area of Industry 4.0 that is most technologically mature. Thus, while the preparatory stage for the US AM buildup has often felt excruciatingly slow, the buildup proper will likely take off at a pace that feels overwhelmingly fast. There are no guarantees that 2024 will be the year when that reality takes hold, but the trajectories of many critical spheres across the whole global economy do seem to be lining up that way.

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