Mission Statement
To foster a vibrant rocket propulsion community
that provides reliable and affordable propulsion systems
in support of the nation’s defense, civil and commercial needs.


The National Institute for Rocket Propulsion Systems (NIRPS) serves to maintain and advance U.S. leadership in all aspects of rocket propulsion for defense, civil, and commercial uses.

The Institute's creation was in response to widely acknowledged concerns dating back more than a decade about the U.S. rocket propulsion base. U.S. leadership in rocket and missile propulsion is threatened by long-term industry downsizing, a shortage of new solid and liquid propulsion programs, limited ability to attract and retain fresh talent, and pressure on discretionary federal budgets. Erosion of this capability has been cited in numerous trade and independent studies as a threat to both national security and the U.S. economy.

The NIRPS team reviewed more than 40 industrial base studies and assessments performed by various entities over the past decade and identified the following six Grand Challenges as areas of focus:

  • Reduce development and sustainment costs for missile and rocket systems

  • Support the competitiveness and resilience of the industrial base

  • Foster access to facilities and expertise across government, industry, and academia

  • Develop and implement an integrated science and technology plan for propulsion systems

  • Invigorate the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline

  • Collaborate across agencies for missile and rocket propulsion system development.


The Institute serves as policy steward, technology integrator, and solutions facilitator to reverse this erosion and strengthen the global competitiveness of the U.S. propulsion base. In its activities, the Institute:

  • Monitors and analyzes U.S. propulsion, research, development, test, and manufacturing capabilities and activities

  • Identifies technology needs and leads roadmap studies that support timely technology maturation and use

  • Provides national policy options to decision makers that promote a healthy industrial base and ensure best use of government and commercial resources

  • Maintains relationships and awareness across industry to match needs with the best technical solution

  • Serves as the integrator for government organizations, the supplier base, interagency working groups, and academia

  • Provides a knowledge resource for life cycle issues, acquisition planning, early risk mitigation, technology maturation, development and operations assistance, materials, component and system design and testing, certification, validation, safety, and project management.

Since the formation of NIRPS in May 2011, the Institute has attracted multiple government, industry and academic partners across the country. It serves as a resource for collaboration and integration between all sectors of the U.S. propulsion industrial base, supporting policy development options, identifying technology requirements, and offering solutions that make best use of available national resources to meet future demand. As a multi-agency organization, NIRPS provides comprehensive factual information to policymakers about all issues affecting the propulsion industry.

The National Institute for Rocket Propulsion Systems is a responsive solution to the current needs of government, industry, and academia. It leverages the capabilities of the entire industry and makes the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars while keeping the United States in the forefront of space exploration, national defense, and commercial competitiveness.