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Introduction to rocket propulsion systems
History
Definition
Types of Propulsion
Propulsion System Classification
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History.
first rockets  Chinese (gun powder
850 AD, rockets ~ 1150 AD)
next seven centuries military
applications (Chinese, Mongols,
Indians, Arabs)
Long Serpent
History.
20
th
century: 3 pioneers in modern rocketry (Ziolkovsky, Goddard,
Oberth)
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K. Ziolkovsky R. H. Goddard H. Oberth
History.
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V2  Rockets
V2 Vergeltungswaffe 2
(Vengence Weapon 2)
Designed by Wernher von Braun)
History.
1957: Soviet success with first artificial satellite
1969: man on the moon
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Apollo 11 crew :Armstrong,
Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin
Sputnik 1
History.
Indian Space Research
1963 : First sounding rocket launched
1975: First Indian Satellite (Aryabhatta) launched
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Aryabhatta
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solid prop.
liquid prop.
solid prop.
liquid prop.
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GSLV MK III
2S200 + L110 + C25
3 stage vehicle
Launch capability for GTO, LEO,
Polar and intermediate
circular orbits
GTO P/L : 4.5 t
LEO P/L : 10 t
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Introduction to rocket propulsion systems
Propulsion
Rocket
Derived from the Latin word Propellere
pro = forward or before ; pellere = push
pushing forward or act of changing
the motion of the body
Device that produces the thrust by ejecting
stored matter called propellant
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Propulsion
(i) Duct/Air breathing
(ii) Rocket
 utilises mostly the surrounding medium as
the working fluid along with some stored fuel
 eg. turbojets , ramjets
 carries its own propellant
act of imparting the momentum to the object
in space
Rocket Propulsion
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Propulsion systems
Energy source: chemical , nuclear, electric, solar
Basic function: booster stage, sustainer, altitude control, orbit station
keeping etc
Type of vehicle: aircraft, missile, assisted take off, space vehicle
Type of propellant: solid, liquid, hybrid etc
Size, type of construction, number of rocket propulsion units etc.
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Rocket propulsion engines
Chemical Nuclear Solar Electrical
Definition and Fundamentals (inertial frame of reference,
momentum, impulse)
rocket principle and rocket equation
mass ratio of a rocket
desirable parameters of a rocket
propulsive efficiency
performance parameters
staging and clustering
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Rocket Propulsion Engines
Chemical Rockets
Energy from a highpressure combustion reaction of propellant chemicals
Based on the physical state of propellant: liquid, solid, gaseous, hybrid
Advantage: very large thrust/unit mass of rocket
Disadvantage: thrust/unit mass flow rate of propellant is strictly limited by
the chemical energy of the propellant :> propellant mass carried by the
vehicle/unit impulse is large!!!
Liquid (liquid hydrogen, oxygen, kerosene) [Engines]
monopropellant (hydrazine), bipropellant (H2/O2, HC/O2)
Solid (composite ammonium perchlorate, nitrate)[Motors]
Gaseous (air, nitrogen, helium)
Hybrid (both solid and liquid propellant)
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Solid Propellant Rocket Motor
Propellant = Energy source (chemical)
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy Conversion = chemical to thermal energy (combustion)
no feed systems or valves, lower impulse
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Liquid Propellant Rocket Engine
Propellant = Energy source
(chemical)
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = chemical to
thermal energy (combustion)
needs precision valves, feed
mechanisms (pumps, turbines etc),
higher impulse
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Gaseous propellant rocket engines
Propellant = Energy source
(storage pressure)
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = pressure
energy to kinetic energy
requires large storage volumes
thrust decrease with pressure,
altitude control, manoeuvring
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Hybrid Rocket Engine
Propellant = Energy source (chemical)
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = chemical to thermal energy (combustion)
SpaceShipTwo & White Knight
Company Scaled Composites
White Knight Two jet powered
SpaceShipTwo rocket (HTPB & Nitrous oxide hybrid engine)
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Electrical Rocket Propulsion Engines
Use electrical energy for heating and /or directly ejecting propellant, utilizing
an energy source that is independent of the propellant itself
Electrothermal Thrusters (Resistojet, Arcjet)
Nonthermal electrical Thrusters (Electrostatic, eg. Ion Engines)
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Electrical Rocket Propulsion
Propellant = gas (eg. ammonium, H2, N2, Hydrazine
decomposition product gases)
Energy Source = electrical (nuclear, solar or batteries)
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = electrical to thermal to kinetic energy
very low thrust (0.005 1 N)
Arc Heating Electric
Rocket Propulsion
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Electrical Rocket Propulsion (Ion Engine)
Propellant = neutral gas (eg. Xenon)
Energy Source = electrical (nuclear)
Accelerator = high voltage electrostatic field across
electrodes
Energy conversion = electrical to kinetic energy
2000 60,000 m/s
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Nuclear Rockets
Working fluid is heated by nuclear energy, which subsequently is expanded
in a nozzle and ejected to a high velocity
Nuclear Thermal
Nuclear Electrical
Pulsed Nuclear
Nuclear Thermal
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Nuclear Thermal Rockets
Propellant = gas
Energy source = nuclear
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = nuclear to thermal to kinetic energy
release of radioactive materials
deep space applications
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Solar Rocket Propulsion Engines
Solar energy is used to heat the working fluid and the hot gas is exhausted
through one or more nozzles
Solar thermal rockets
Solar sail
Solar Sail
Solar sailing applet: Solar Sailing School
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Solar Thermal Rocket (concept)
Propellant = gas
Energy source = solar
Accelerator = Nozzle
Energy conversion = solar to
thermal to kinetic energy
deployed outside atmosphere
storage and refuelling of working
fluid is challenging
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Fundamentals: Inertial Frame of Reference
A frame of reference which is either stationary or is moving at a
constant velocity
stationary coordinate system
coordinates translating at a constant velocity v
Rotational Frame of Reference
A frame of reference to describe a body which is having a circular
orbit (for eg. a spacecraft)
it is not an inertial frame of reference (it has changing velocities and acceleration)
additional fictitious forces (centrifugal forces) are necessary to describe the
motion of the body
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Fundamentals: Relevant Terms
.. pushing
Momentum (kgm/s)
Impulse (kgm/s or Ns)
Force (N)
Specific Impulse (Ns/kg)
change of momentum
mass (m) x velocity (v)
change of momentum
rate of change of momentum
Impulse delivered per unit mass of propellant
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Rocket Principle and Rocket Equation
Principle: Pushing itself forward by constantly ejecting out material
stored within it.
Ziolkovsky Equation (Rocket Equation) [early 1900s]
V = V
j
ln (M
i
/M
f
)
where, V, velocity increment
V
j
, efflux velocity
M
i
, initial mass
M
f
, final mass
1
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Mass Ratio Of a Rocket
Mass Ratio R
m
= M
f
/M
i
where, M
f
= final mass after all the propellant has been consumed
and M
i
= initial mass before the rocket operation
ie. V = V
j
ln (1/ R
m
)
We can show that, V = V
j
ln [( + + )/ ( + )]
where, = payload mass fraction, M
u
/M
i
= structural mass fraction, M
s
/M
i
and
= propellant mass fraction, M
u
/M
i
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Desirable parameters of rocket
V = V
j
ln [( + + )/ ( + )]
or, = e
( V / Vj)

i.e., to achieve higher values of payload mass fraction ,
(i) V
j
needs to be large
(ii) needs to be small
2
Payload mass fraction, Vs ( V/V
j
) and
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Rockets having small propellant mass fraction
i.e., M
p
< M
u
, M
s
V ~ V
j
[ ( / ( + )]
= V
j
(M
p
/M
f
)
~ V
j
(M
p
/M
i
)
M
p
=
p
V
p
where,
p
the density of the propellant,
V
p
the volume of the propellant in the rocket
V
p
V
j
as V
p
and M
f
are fairly fixed
3
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Impulse (I)
change in momentum = m
p
V
j
[Ns]
Specific Impulse (I
sp
)
impulse delivered per unit mass of propellant = I/m
p
= V
j
[kgm/s, Ns]
Thrust (F)
rate of change of impulse = dI/dt =
p
V
j
[N]
Impulse to mass ratio
ratio of total impulse to the initial mass of rocket = I/M
i
Thrust to mass ratio
ratio of the thrust to the initial mass = F/M
i
Performance parameters of a rocket
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Propulsive Efficiency
Energy balance
diagram for a
chemical rocket
Propulsive efficiency determines how much of the k.e. of the
exhaust jet is useful for propelling a vehicle
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Propulsive Efficiency
Propulsive efficiency (
p
): ratio of the rate of work done by the rocket
to the rate of energy supplied
Rate of work done = Thrust power = Thrust (F) * Flight velocity (V)
Rate of energy supplied = Thrust power + residual kinetic jet power
i.e.
p
= V
j
V / ( V
j
V + (V V
j
)
2
)
= 2(V/V
j
)/(1+(V/V
j
)
2
)
The propulsive efficiency is maximum when the forward vehicle velocity
is exactly equal to the exhaust velocity
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V/V
j
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Staging and Clustering of Rockets
the total velocity at the end of the operation is equal to the sum of the
ideal velocities provided by the operation of each stage
i.e., the total ideal velocity at the end of a n stage rocket
V = V
1
+ V
2
+ V
3
+ V
4
.+ V
n
where, V
1
, V
2
V
n
are
the velocity provided by
each stage
or V = V
j1
ln (1/ R
m1
) + V
j2
ln (1/ R
m2
) +.+ V
jn
ln (1/ R
mn
)
= V
j
ln [(1/ R
m1
) (1/ R
m2
)(1/ R
mn
)] for equal V
j
at the end
of each stages
= V
j
ln [(M
i
/M
f
)
1
(M
i
/M
f
)
2
.... (Mi/Mf)
n
] in terms of intial and
final masses
= V
j
ln [(M
i,1
/M
f,n
)] with intial mass of the
successive stage equal to
the final mass of previous
stage i.e., M
f,1
= M
i,2
, M
f,2
=
M
i,3
...
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Staging and Clustering of Rockets (continued)
In case of equal mass ratios at all stages,
i.e., V = V
j
ln (1/ R
m
)
n
for R
m1
= R
m2
=R
mn
= R
m
= n V
j
ln (1/ R
m
)
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Staging and Clustering of Rockets (continued)
solid prop (booster rocket).
liquid prop.
solid prop.
liquid prop.
strapon rockets
(parallel staging)
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Staging and Clustering of Rockets (continued)
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Types of rocket nozzles and thrust vector control
Shape of the nozzle
Choked flow
Nozzle Area ratio
Over and Under expanded nozzles
Contour or Bell Nozzles
Thrust vector control
engine with single nozzle
with two or more nozzles
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Shape of the nozzle
Hugoniot Relation or AreaVelocity relation for isoentropic flows
dA/A = (M
2
1) dV/V
where, V = velocity of the fluid
A = cross sectional area
M = V/a is the Mach Number (a, sound velocity)
dV, dA = small change in velocity and area
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d / =  (dA/A + dV/V)
p/
= constant
T/(p)
( 1/ )
= constant
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Variation of sound speed and Mach no.
a
2
= dp/d = p/ = RT
M = 1 at throat Choked flow max through the nozzle
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Exercises 1 Theory of Rocket Propulsion
The following data is reported for a rocket a few seconds after it leaves the
launch pad: Thurst is 9 kN; Propellant consumption rate is 3000 kg/s;
Velocity of the rocket is 400 m/s. Calculate, at the particular instant of time
for which the data is available:
(a) Jet velocity in m/s
(b) Propulsive efficiency of the rocket
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Exercises 2 Theory of Rocket Propulsion
A space mission performed by an electrical rocket requires an incremental
velocity of 1.5 km/s. The mass of payload is 1500 kg. If the efflux jet velocity
of the propellant used is 18000 m/s and th structural mass fraction of the
vehicle is 0.2, estimate:
(a) The propellant mass required
(b) The overall mass
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Exercises 3 Theory of Rocket Propulsion
A Satellite Launch Vehicle is used for putting a satellite of mass 1400 kg in
orbit. The launch vehicle has four stages with six strapon rockets for the
first stage. The mass of the structure including inert, the mass of the
propellant and the specific impulse of each stage and the strapon can be
assumed to be given by the following:
Assume that the 6 strap on rockets and the first stage fire together. The
thrust of each strapon rocket can be assumed as 640 kN while the thrust of
the first stage is 4800 kN. Determine the following: (i) Payload fraction
(alpha) (ii) Initial acceleration of the vehicle (iii) Incremental velocity
contributed by each stage and the total vehicle
Stage M
s
(kg) M
P
(kg) I
sp
(Ns/kg)
Strap on 1500 9000 2570
First 25000 1,40,000 2640
Second 8200 40,000 2920
Third 1400 7000 2930
Fourth 2200 1200 3040
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Flow through
CD Nozzle
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Over and Underexpanded nozzles
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Low Altitude Optimum Altitude High Altitude
Overexpanded Underexpanded
p
e
< p
a
p
e
> p
a
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Over and Underexpanded nozzles
Over Expanded
Pressure at the nozzle exit, p
e
<
ambient pressure, p
a
Under Expanded
p
e
> p
a
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Nozzle Area Ratio
Ratio of the exit area of the nozzle (A
e
) to the throat area (A
t
)
= A
e
/A
t
Depends mainly on the pressure expansion ratio p
c
/p
e
where p
c
= chamber pressure
p
e
= nozzle exit pressure
It can be shown that
is a function of both and the pressure ratio p
c
/p
e
Performance Losses
Divergence loss coefficient: ratio between the momentum of the gases in
a nozzle with a finite nozzle angle 2 and the momentum of an ideal nozzle
with all gases flowing in an axial direction:
The fractional loss of thrust due to the above loss,
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Contour or Bell Nozzles
the exit angle of a nozzle is brought down by suitably shaping the nozzle in the
form of a bell and keeping the length to be small.
i
= 20 50 deg
e
= 2 5 deg
Adv: Larger area ratio can be used, reduction in overall length
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Unconventional Nozzles
Extendible Nozzle
Dual Bell Nozzle
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Unconventional Nozzles (continued)
Expansion Deflection Nozzle
Plug Nozzle
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Flow with
underexpansion
at altitude
Flow with
overexpansion
( sea level)
expansion
waves
trailing
waves
Diffused
boundaries
Annular
chamber
Recirculation
regions
Recirculation
regions
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Thrust Vector Control (TVC)
In TVC moments (pitch, yaw and roll) are purposefully generated about the
center of mass to control flight trajectories
Pitch moment : to raise or lower the nose of a vehicle
Yaw moment : to turn the nose side ways
Roll moment : to roll the rocket in the desired direction
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Reasons:
to wilfully change a flight path or trajectory
to rotate the vehicle or change its attitude during powered flight
to correct for deviation from the intended trajectory or the attitude
during powered flight
to correct for thrust misalignment of a fixed nozzle in the main
propulsion system during its operation, when the main thrust vector
misses the vehicles center of mass
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TVC: engines with single nozzle
(i) Mechanical deflection of the nozzle or thrust chamber
(ii) Insertion of heatresistant movable bodies into the exhaust jet
(iii) Injection of fluid into the side of the diverging nozzle section
(iv) separate thrust producing devices
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TVC: engines with two or more nozzles
differential throttling with four fixed position thrust chambers
larger thrust from unthrottled engines imparts turning moments
for roll control, the nozzles are slightly inclined and their individual thrust
vectors do not go through the center of mass
shaded nozzle exits :
throttled condition or
reduced thrust
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Parameters for chemical rockets
Mass flow rates and characteristic velocity
Thrust coefficient
Efficiency
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Mass flow rate and Characteristic Velocity
The mass flow rate through the nozzle is given by
= p
c
A
t
/C
*
where C
*
= 1/ x sqrt(R
0
T
c
/M), the characteristic velocity
sqrt(R
0
T
c
/M)/ = transfer function
R
0
= Universal gas constant
M = Molecular mass of the gas
p
c
,T
c
= chamber pressure and temperature
A
t
= Nozzle throat area
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Thrust Coefficient
Thrust coefficient (C
F
) is defined as the thrust divided by the chamber
pressure p
c
and the throat area A
t
i.e., C
F
= F / p
c
A
t
= f ( , , p
e
/p
c
)
For any fixed pressure ratio p
e
/p
c
, C
F
and F have a peak when p
e
= p
a
. This
peak value is known as optimum thrust coefficient C
0
F
C
F
can be considered as representing the amplification of thrust due to the
gas expanding in the supersonic nozzle as compared to the thrust that
would be exerted if the chamber pressure p
c
acted over the throat area A
t
only
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Efficiencies
C
*
Efficiency
The ratio of the actual C
*
obtained in a rocket to the theoretical
idealised value calculated
C*
= C
*
actual
/ C
*
ideal
Thrust Correction Coefficient (
F
)
The ratio of the actual thrust coefficient to the ideal value
F
= C
F actual
/ C
F ideal
It can be shown that
C*
x
F
= F
a
/F
i
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Specific Impulse, I
sp
and correlation with C
*
and C
F
I
sp
= F / = C
*
x C
F
I
sp
is therefore a composite index comprising of the transfer function of the
propellant to generate high pressure gases and the expansion of the gases
in the nozzle
i.e., the I
sp
of a propellant will vary depending on the chamber pressure and
the nozzle exit pressure
Sea level specific impulse I
sp,SL
(p
e
= 1 atm, p
c
= 70 atm)
Vacuum specific impulse I
sp,vac
(p
a
= 0)
I
sp,vac
> I
sp,SL