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Hadrian is building the factories of the future for rocket ships and advanced manufacturing – TechCrunch

If the eight-person team behind the new startup Hadrian has their way, they’ll have transformed the manufacturing industry within the next decade. At least, that’s the goal for the new San Francisco-based startup, founded only last year, which has set its sights on building a new model for advanced manufacturing to enable the satellite, spaceship, and progressive energy technology companies to build the future they envision better and faster. “We view our job as to provide the world’s most efficient space and defense component factory,” said Hadrian founder Chris Power. Initially, the company is building factories to make the parts that go on rocket ships, according to Power. Still, the business has implications for any company that needs bespoke components to make their equipment.

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“Let me tell you how bad it is and what will happen over the next 20 years. Right now, everyone in space and defense, [including] SpaceX and Lockheed Martin, outsources their parts and manufacturing to small factories across the country. They’re super expensive, unreliable, and completely invisible to the customers,” said Power. “This causes big problems with space and defense manufacturers in the design phase because the lead and iteration times are super long. Imagine running software and being able to iterate on your product once every 20 days. If you can imagine a Gantt chart of how to build a rocket, about 60% of that is buffer time… Many delays in launches and stuff like that happen because parts got delivered three months ago. It’d be like running a McDonald’s and realizing that your fries and burger providers could not tell you when the food would arrive.”

According to Hadrian’s investors Lux Capital, Founders Fund, and Construct Capital, it’s hard to overstate the geopolitical importance of re-establishing the U.S. as a center of manufacturing excellence; this is one reason they’re investing $9.5 million into the very early stage of business. It’s hard to overstate the strategic importance of the parts suppliers to the operations of aerospace, defense, and advanced machining companies. As no less an authority on manufacturing than Elon Musk noted in a tweet, “The factory is the product.”

“America made massive strategic mistakes in the early 90s, which have left our national manufacturing ecosystem completely dilapidated,” said Founders Fund principal Delian Asparouhov. “The only way to get out of this disaster is to re-invent the most basic input into our aerospace and defense supply chains, machining metal parts quickly and with high tolerance. Currently, America’s most innovative company, SpaceX, relies on a network of near-retired machinists to produce space-worthy metal parts, and no one in technology is. Focused on solving this.”

Power understood the problem at his previous company, Ento, which sold workforce management software to blue-collar customers. He realized the issue: The aging workforce and the need for manufacturers to upgrade almost every aspect of their technology stack. “I realized that the right way to bring technology to the industrial space is not to sell software to these companies. It’s to build an industrial business from scratch with software.” Initially, Hadrian focused all its efforts on the space industry, where the component manufacturing problem is especially acute. Still, the manufacturing capabilities the company is building out have broad relevance across any industry that requires highly engineered components.

“The demand for manufacturing from both the large SpaceX and Blue Origin to this growing long tail of companies from Anduril to Relativity to Varda,” said Lux Capital co-founder Josh Wolfe. “Most of these guys are using mom-and-pop machine shops… [and] those shops are inefficient. They’re not consistent, and they’re not reliable. Between software automation and hardware, you can cut down on inefficiency at every process… I like to think of value creation as waste reduction… such mundane things like quoting, scheduling, bidding, and planning to the programming of the manufacturing… every one of those things takes hours to tens of hours to days and weeks, so if you can do that in minutes, it’s just a no-brainer. [Hadrian] will be the cutting edge choice for all the new, explicitly dedicated, focused aerospace and defense companies.”

Power envisions a network of manufacturing facilities that can initially cover roughly 65% of all space and defense components and will eventually take that number up to 95% of features. Several of the most significant launch vehicle and satellite manufacturers are already in talks with the company to produce hundreds of units for them, Power said. Some companies are in the Construct, Lux, and Founders Fund portfolios. Hadrian would like to offer an onramp to high-paying manufacturing careers in the 21st century, which is an ideal world in the same way that automakers provided good union jobs in the twentieth. And the company’s founder sees this as a new way to revitalize American manufacturing jobs. “Manufacturing jobs in space and defense can easily be as high paying as a software engineering job at Google,” he said. “We haven’t built any of this. If you look at the number of people we need to train and hire on our new technology and new systems, people problem and that training problem is part of growing our business.” A render of Axiom’s future commercial space station design.


I have always enjoyed writing and reading other people's blogs. I started writing a journal as a teenager and have since written numerous books and articles. My blog is a place where I can write freely about my personal interests and those of others.

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