iRocket Receives AFWERX Funding for Innovative Reusable Rocket Engine Development

By Sophia Francise

July 2, 2023

The US Space Force has awarded iRocket an additional $1.8 million under a Phase II SBIR contract for developing its reusable rocket engine.

iRocket, or Innovative Rocket Technologies Inc., will be responsible for developing the Shockwave launch vehicle. 

The 2018-founded New York-based firm produces rocket engines and has aspirations to create a miniature launch vehicle.

The award is funded by the Department of the Air Force’s innovation division, AFWERX.

It is a Tactical Funding Increase (TACFI) from a Phase II SBIR contract that started in July 2020. 

As part of the contract, iRocket showed three working modes of its booster engine: augmented, unaugmented, and landing mode. 

According to the manufacturer, this engine is intended for fast reuse and allows the Shockwave launch vehicle to land in both the first and second stages, including the fairing. 

Under the terms of the new contract, iRocket will conduct a full-duration static fire test for 120–180 seconds to show off its reusable engine with a thrust of 35,000 lbs.

The Shockwave engine was designed for frequent reuse, much like an airplane engine, in contrast to other launch vehicles that are regarded as reusable.[1]


The clean burn of the LOX/methane mixture leaves no residue or buildup that needs to be cleaned away before relaunching, and the single combustor design’s low turbine temperatures make it reliable and simple to maintain.

“We believe this contract extension is a clear endorsement of the value our technology brings to national security missions,” said Asad Malik, founder and CEO of iRocket. “The AFWERX mission is to help the Space Force benefit from innovation coming out of private sector companies such as iRocket. Our launcher meets the need for lower launch cost and increased operational tempo in delivering assets to orbit.” 

The company plans to launch its first automobile in late 2027.


  1. Sandra Erwin, ‘Startup iRocket wins Space Force contract to demonstrate rocket engine’, SpaceNews, 28 June 2023,[]