Launcher, a small launch vehicle corporation, has relocated to California to complete the next phase of its rocket production. Launcher is in the process of relocating from New York City to a 24,000-square-foot complex it is leasing in Hawthorne, California, only a few blocks from SpaceX‘s vast headquarters.
The structure will serve as the company’s headquarters for vehicle production. According to Max Haot, who created Launcher in 2017, the change was a rational phase in the company’s evolution. He explained, “We were at a stage where we wanted to open a manufacturing center and scale the squad, so we chose the strategic choice to come here.” “The production chain, talent, and all of our clients, like the Space Force, are all here.”
Launcher currently employs 20 people, half of whom are based in Ukraine, to help with the design and analysis of its E-2 motor. The organization has a technology assistance arrangement with the US State Department, enabling it to share data with the Ukrainian office. In California, Launcher plans to recruit a variety of engineers.
In recent years, Southern California has been a hub of operation in the launch industry. Long Beach is host to Relativity, Rocket Lab, as well as Virgin Orbit, in addition to SpaceX in Hawthorne. ABL Space Systems is located in El Segundo, just west of Hawthorne, and recently raised a $170 million Series B round.
According to Haot, the Hawthorne facility should be large enough to sustain the corporation while developing the first launch vehicle. “It’s probably large enough to construct the first aircraft, and possibly up to four for test flights,” he added. “Towards the top, it will feel a little claustrophobic.”
The E-2 engine is currently being built and evaluated by the firm. The E-2 engine was put through its paces at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi last fall. He defined the tests as “partially effective” with effective ignition; however, some melting in the combustion chamber due to cooling channels clogged with powder from the 3D-printing operation. More engine tests are scheduled for June or July. The launch is collecting a Series A round to fund this work, which has already closed, according to Haot. He wouldn’t say how much capital the organization is looking to raise in this phase. “It won’t get us into space, but it will take us to the next stage.”