If you launched Estes model rockets as a child, you may be interested to learn that Estes Industries has created a spin-out company designed to serve government and industry customers. Known as Estes Energetics, the new company bridges the gap between the hobby rocket industry and large aerospace companies, making it a partner to rapidly create propulsion and aerospace solutions.
With engineering, manufacturing, and test facilities in Penrose, Colorado, near Colorado Springs, Estes Energetics will deliver research, development, rapid prototyping, testing, integration, and production for small, solid-propellant rocket motors for a range of atmospheric and space applications.
Using the company's rapid prototyping capabilities, the Estes Energetics team recently completed development of a booster motor for a rocket-launched unmanned aircraft for a prime defense contractor, taking the design from initial concept to delivery of an initial production lot in less than six months.
Estes Energetics’ CEO Karl Kulling has more than 15 years' experience leading engineering, manufacturing, and business development in aerospace and other industries. He most recently built and led the Future Vertical Lift strategy team at Bell and previous led one of Bell's composites manufacturing facilities. Kulling started his aerospace career at Aurora Flight Sciences as a leader in the research and development organization.
"I am excited to be launching this new venture that will deliver the full lifecycle of rocket motor products, from research & development of new propulsion technologies to implementation and integration in government and commercial solutions. With the support of Estes Industries, we are starting from a solid foundation that provides us the full spectrum of capabilities needed to bring complete solutions to market," Kulling said.
A 2017 Government Accountability Office report on the solid rocket motor industrial base identified challenges and risks of a decreasing supply base. At the same time, customers continue to demand innovation in terms of increased safety, performance, and cost. As a new entrant to the market, Estes Energetics will address these needs and concerns. The company intends to focus its initial R&D work in three areas:
- Developing low-cost rocket motors that meet Insensitive Munition (IM) requirements of the US military
- Meeting the needs of the burgeoning small space launch industry
- Developing integrated solutions that require not only energetics but also complex aerodynamic, thermal, and structural analysis and advanced control systems