Propulsion System Design for a Reusable Sub-orbital Rocket Launcher

Masters project by Team Rocket at the University of Strathclyde.

Background Research

Initially, the team had little knowledge on the topic of rocket engines and so the first few weeks was spent on research. From the background literature research it was clear that the reusability factor was going to create problems. The reusability of the rocket meant that ablative cooling was not possible. The lack of detail also increased the difficulty such as the method of landing; whether the rocket did a swan dive or descended in a controlled manner was unknown. The client also wanted to have a look at using reciprocating pumps as opposed to centrifugal pumps which is the traditional way for many, if not all previous designs.

The engine cycle also had to be chosen for the pump fed system and in the end, the gas generator cycle was picked. The reason being that it is the simplest design without having to re-introduce the flow back into the thrust chamber and can instead be expelled to atmosphere. This does give greater losses but is fairly insignificant to the overall design.