West Lafayette-based Adranos Inc. tactical-scale solid rocket motor test fire completed in 2021. (photo provided)

West Lafayette-based startup Adranos Inc. has closed on a $20 million Series A funding round to help the company continue development of solid rocket fuel and motors for long-range missiles and space systems. The company says the funding will allow it to grow staff and further-scale its manufacturing capacity. Adranos founders developed a proprietary aluminum-lithium alloy fuel called ALITEC that they say significantly increases the range, payload performance, and speed of defense and space systems.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Chris Stoker and Vice President of Space Systems and Government Relations Michael Grasso said the technology is what their customers, U.S. government and defense contractors, are looking for.

“You have an incredible product that we’ve established in the past and you need people in process to be able to provide that product to the world and that’s what the raise (Series A funding) is really all about,” said Stoker. “[That] is to help us obtain the capital, to provide our products to our customers…so that we can be more competitive in the changing landscape of the world.”

Click below to listen to more of the IIB interview with Chris Stoker as he explains demand for the technology.

Co-founded in 2015, Adranos manufactures solid rocket motor propulsion systems for hypersonic boosters, tactical missiles, space launch vehicles, and other platforms.

The Series A funding round closed after Adranos successfully completed a test campaign of ALITEC-fueled tactical missile-sized solid rocket motors for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. In 2019, Adranos conducted similar testing for the U.S. Army, and this recent testing revealed exponential power growth.

“To put that campaign in context, we built and tested solid rocket motors that were about 10 times larger than what we had built in the past. That was a significant step up in capability,” said Grasso. “With this funding, we’re going to be able to scale and meet all sorts of new and interesting opportunities as they come our way.”

Grasso explains below how much more power the latest tests revealed.

Participation in this round of funding came from Impala Asset Management LLC, Explorer1 Fund, Elevate Ventures, and Specific Impulse Capital.

“We see significant market potential for Adranos in defense and space,” said Bob Bishop, chief information officer and founder at Impala Asset Management. “It’s apparent to me that Adranos directly addresses the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense as well as defense and commercial space launch entities.”

The company currently employs about two dozen workers between its headquarters and manufacturing facility at the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette and its research and development and primary production operations in southern Mississippi. Stoker expects the staffing size will double by the end of 2023.

“I’m not at all surprised by the traction we’ve gotten from customers, or that the interest we’ve gotten from investors, because I’ve known for years that we have a phenomenal product that can have a huge impact on the world,” Stoker said. “National security and commercial space customers want substantially more performance from solid rocket motors, and that is exactly what we offer them.”