Ursa Major buys 90-acre property in Burgdorf, ramps up hiring and production

With its recent acquisition of its own facilities and properties at 19750 Weld County Road 7, rocket engine manufacturer Ursa Major Technologies Inc. is poised to expand and accelerate production for the burgeoning private aerospace industry .

Ursa Major had leased space on the property — a former Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp test facility. of 90 acres in the Burgdorf Tech Center – since 2016, when it sublet a small bunker. In 2019, he started renting out the rest of the space. Then last month he bought the land for $7 million.

“We’ve always wanted to buy this land,” Nick Doucette, chief operating officer of Ursa Major, told BizWest. “It was always part of our plan to get the capital needed to complete this purchase.”

The idea for Ursa Major germinated in 2014, Doucette said, when the founders began thinking about the biggest barrier to entry for new rocket companies: the time and money needed to develop their own engine. It’s hard enough without vertically integrated companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin having a two-decade head start.

“We realized horizontal integration could work here,” Doucette said. “For example, when you fly a United plane, United didn’t build the plane. He bought the plane from Boeing. And Boeing didn’t build the engine, it bought the engine from GE.

This is what Ursa Major does: manufacture rocket motors as a third party and sell them to rocket manufacturers, allowing them to skip this intensive step. Ursa Major now has two customer pipelines for the two types of engines it develops: ordinary rocket engines and hypersonic engines.

“We’ve seen a few businesses start because of our existence, because we help them,” Doucette said.

The Berthoud facility is a big part of why Ursa Major is able to do this. It is one of the only places in the world where rocket design, manufacturing and testing facilities are collocated.

“Being co-located is a huge strategic advantage for us,” Doucette said. “It’s a huge recruiting tactic. It saves a lot of time… It quickly became apparent that this is an impressive property with incredible buildings and location. As we grew, it became clear that we wanted to stay here and cement ourselves for the long term. We are very proud of the support Berthoud has given us.

And the city was happy to have them. Walt Elish, Burgdorf’s business development manager, said the city has always viewed the site as a prime location for industrial development. When Ursa Major moved into a facility building in 2016, Elish said, no one anticipated how quickly they would grow.

“I want to emphasize what a great company they are,” Elish said. “It’s a great corporate citizen.”

Ursa Major has grown to 141 employees. By the end of 2022, Doucette said, there will be between 200 and 250. One of the reasons the company wanted to buy the facility was to facilitate the expansion of offices and amenities to house all these new workers. With them on board, it plans to deliver between 30 and 50 rocket motors this year, as production continues to ramp up.

“It was a great ride with them,” Elish said.

This article was first published by BizWest, an independent news agency, and is published under a license agreement. © 2022 BizWestMedia LLC.

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