Rocket Propulsion Company Ursa Major Closes $85 Million In Series C Funding

By Noah Long • Dec 14, 2021
  • Ursa Major — a Colorado-based aerospace start-up — recently announced it raised $85 million in Series C funding. These are the details.

Ursa Major — a Colorado-based aerospace start-up — recently announced it raised $85 million in Series C funding. This funding round was led by accounts managed by BlackRock and includes investors like XN and Explorer 1, as well as existing insiders Alsop Louie Partners, Alpha Edison, Dolby Family Ventures, Space Capital, and Harpoon Ventures.

The additional funding will enable Ursa Major to dedicate a new level of capital to rapidly accelerate the production of its current rocket engine programs to produce one engine per week by the end of 2022, meeting the unprecedented demand for their Ripley and Hadley engines. Plus this capital enables Ursa Major to begin the development of additional next-generation engines.

This funding round also represents a landmark in a year already packed with steep growth at Ursa Major. That growth trajectory includes deploying a more reliable, higher-performing variant of their Hadley engine; a focus on supporting higher production rates; launches that carry more rigorous requirements; doubling revenue; and a new threshold of technical capability. This helped earn Ursa Major new partnerships with commercial launch providers like Stratolaunch, Phantom Space, Generation Orbit, and defense prime contractors, as well as new contracts from the U.S. Air Force and the Defense Manufacturing Institutes.

Ursa Major focuses only on propulsion with a business model more akin to software companies than launch providers. And by utilizing 3D printing and onsite test facilities to rapidly cycle through the building, testing, and production of rocket engines, Ursa Major is able to deliver a continuously improving product to its customers.

Ursa Major’s propulsion-only approach disrupts the existing vertically integrated launch industry by providing vehicle-agnostic engines for a variety of launch and hypersonic applications. And Tthis approach stands as a safeguard against the kind of consolidation and stagnation in launch technology that kept America dependent on Russian-made Khrushchev-era rocket engines in the past and has led to the outsourcing of critical rocket technology to overseas partners.


“At Ursa Major, our mission is to build the best rocket engines on and off the planet. Not only does this allow our engineers to do what they do best, but our assessment of the market supports our focus. We believe that propulsion is a specialty, and propulsion’s horizontal is larger than any vertical it feeds into. A recent trend of consolidation and space companies seeking new verticals demonstrates the need for a horizontal market view. To advance this industry and make space travel a more everyday endeavor, we need the technical advancements provided only by specialization.”

— Ursa Major CEO and Founder Joe Laurienti

“We anticipate an accelerated expansion of the space economy over the next decade, which should in turn drive demand for efficient and reliable propulsion technologies. Through a single focus that concentrates talent and capital, Ursa Major is ideally positioned to out-engineer the competition and become the leading engine manufacturer in the world.”

— William Abecassis, Head of Innovation Capital at BlackRock

“The demand we’re seeing for Ursa Major is indicative of a deep need in the aerospace industry. The consolidation and vertical integration that we see is concerning in that it limits innovation that would improve existing propulsion technology. Propulsion is extremely challenging, and by only doing ‘good enough,’ the industry runs the risk of stagnation in an area that needs drastic improvement to meet both commercial and defense needs. Ursa Major is positioned perfectly to address that need.”

— Dr. Will Roper, the former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics who serves on Ursa Major’s board of directors