BERTHOUD, Colo. (CBS4) - When you think of building rocket engines it would be easy to think of teams of scientists laboring over something as big as a school bus. In Berthoud they are building small reusable rocket engines quicker than anybody thought possible.
"Rockets really prior to 2010 had been decades-old programs that were either retrofitted or modified," said Founder & CEO of Ursa Major Technologies Joe Laurienti.
He says these days more and more companies and organizations need to get to space quickly and inexpensively. So, Laurienti built his company to meet that need.
"We built a business plan around focusing on these engines which are the barrier to entry for most space access," said Laurienti.
Ursa Major Tech has developed an alloy that allows them to 3D print most of their Hadley rocket engine.
"About 80% of the mass of the engine is 3D printed," said Laurienti.
That drives the price down and cuts production time, but Laurienti says more importantly, it has reinvented how rocket engines are built.
"I think it's how we're using it that is really revolutionary," he said. "It's using 3D printing to remove processes and build things that can't be built any other way."
This year, their first year in production, they are making 30 engines, next year he says they will make 60. Laurienti says he thinks eventually they could be producing 100 reusable rocket engines every year.
"We are really pushing the boundaries of what manufacturing can do," he said.
for more features.