Rocket engines were first powered by solid fuel, which is easily stored and used, but whose thrust cannot be controlled, and which propels continuously until it runs out. Then came the liquid fuel based engines, whose thrust can be controlled because it can be regulated — but its fuels are highly toxic. There are major disadvantages to other existing types of rocket fuel, as well. That used by the SpaceX aerospace company, for example, is cryogenic: to convert it from gas to liquid, it must be cooled to hundreds of Celsius degrees below zero, which needs costly advanced infrastructure and complex storage.
The Israeli startup NewRocket has solved the rocket fuel problem. It has developed a proprietary gel technology which enables a stable and nontoxic engine propellant that maintains both performance and control —thus opening a new era in space industry.
NewRocket’s propulsion systems combines standard aviation fuel with special patented components. The fuel thus created is stored and operated as a gel, requiring no more than conventional protective equipment in the lab (goodbye protective suits and gas masks!) which means there is no need for special infrastructure, nor risk of toxic leakage, and space passengers will not be seated above barrels of hydrazine or other lethal substances. As for cost, NewRocket is again at the head of the field: the price of its PowerGel is around a tenth of that of liquid fuels, and its lifespan is over 15 years.
The groundbreaking PowerGel fuel is based on technology developed by Prof. Benveniste (Benny) Natan of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and its commercial use is exclusively licensed to NewRocket. Part-owned by the Technion, with Prof. Natan serving on the company’s advisory committee to the board of directors, the company began life as a startup at Incubit Ventures, a technology incubator owned by Elbit Systems Ltd. Now independent, it is chaired by Yossi Weiss, former CEO of Israel Aircraft Industries, who has been closely involved in the Israeli and global aerospace industries for the past 20 years.
Laboratory proof of concept for the capability of NewRocket’s PowerGel fuel was an outstanding success. “We’ve shown that our propulsion system is totally reliable for all modes of action and at all impulse levels, both in sequence and on-off pulses, with no limit to number or frequency,” says NewRocket's CEO Ilan Harel. “Our technology is extremely flexible and allows us to address a wide range of products and needs.”
NewRocket is now heading for the global market. It has accumulated R&D contracts from leading Israeli aerospace companies and investments worth $2.5 million. Vincent Tchenguiz’s UK-based Consensus Business Group is the leading investor, with the Group’s strategic investments & portfolio manager Rotem (Yehuda) Kakon supporting NewRocket’s business development.
New Space Applications
Extensive market research and a business plan built with the international consulting firm Deloitte underlie NewRocket’s subsidiary in the United States. It is called HighSP — a pun on High Isp, a familiar term from the field of rocket propulsion — and its current goals are to attract investors from North America and worldwide, and to increase NewRocket's accessibility into the U.S market.
NewRocket’s primary orientation is toward applications in what is known as New Space — manned space flights (soon to be not solely for billionaires), greater activity around space stations and maneuvering satellites. “In a normal launch out of earth’s atmosphere, we have no added value,” says Harel. “In more complex and advanced scenarios , however, such as maintaining satellites or placing large numbers of them in orbit, we have a significant advantage. This is our strength. And our market is vast.”
NewRocket will develop the entire propulsion system: engines, fuel tanks (containing, of course, PowerGel fuel), piping, valves, etc. Such propulsion system can consist of a central engine that propels the satellite into orbit and several smaller peripheral engines that stabilize it in space —tailoring the product to the needs of every customer. “We don’t offer a single, rigid system, but one comprised of building blocks that we can adapt to any specific requirements,” says Harel.
A far-reaching revolution is underway in space propulsion. With traditional space companies increasingly joined by private enterprise, the market is expected to reach tens of billions of dollars by the end of the decade. And NewRocket expects to grow with it, projecting for itself an annual sales turnover of at least a hundred million dollars, and probably far more, once it enters the US market .NewRocket's penetration strategy into the U.S market includes significant expansion of its portfolio to include advanced, maneuvering space systems which are utilizing NewRocket's innovative propulsion systems.
“To the best of our knowledge, in this area of high-powered engines and thrust control without toxic materials and complex storage, we are at the forefront,” says Harel. “This is a unique niche with real value proposition in a market that currently seems limitless. We’re confident it will be reflected in the call for investors on which we’re now embarking. We believe investors will recognize this amazing opportunity and come on board — on the way to outer space".
Partnered with NewRocket Innovative Propulsion Systems