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Novel Engine Cycles for Booster Stage Liquid Rocket Engines


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms 

OBJECTIVE: Develop concepts for non-traditional booster stage rocket engines which will provide an overall system benefit. 

DESCRIPTION: Booster stage rocket engines have used traditional cycles, such as pressure-fed, expander, gas generator, and oxygen-rich staged combustion cycles and constant pressure combustion for the past 50 years. However, over that time period, other concepts that could result in increased reliability, operability, or reduced cost have been identified such as detonation combustion or electrically-driven propellant pumps. The purpose of this topic is to identify and develop novel cycles which will have great benefit to the overall launch vehicle system, but have not been fully developed. Modern booster stage engines typically have a throttle range of 50% to 100%, have specific impulses that exceed 300 seconds with a Liquid Oxygen/kerosene propellant combination, have reliabilities that exceed 0.98, and can have multiple starts on the test stand. Minimizing the size or cost of the engine is also an important consideration. It is expected that any system proposed here will, at minimum, meet these overall requirements. During the first phase of the study, the offeror shall develop a proposed vision engine system and will compare the launch vehicle performance using this new engine concept with the performance of existing launch vehicle systems. The offeror shall also identify why this system would provide quantitative benefits over currently existing systems. In subsequent phases, the offeror will perform critical risk reduction efforts that demonstrate the viability of the concept. This risk reduction shall be in the form of both experimental and modeling and simulation of the system. Because of the harsh conditions present in liquid rocket engines, it is anticipated that this testing will be at sub-scale and on components that are not fully representative of the all of the conditions within a liquid rocket engine. Therefore, it is expected that the testing will be set up in such a way that the test data gathered will be useful to validate the modeling and simulation efforts. The result of this effort will be a potential high performance, highly operable, reduced cost stage liquid rocket engine concepts. These concepts will need to be further developed for commercialization in Phase III efforts.  

PHASE I: Specify the liquid booster stage concept and identify the benefits over current state of the art cycles. 

PHASE II: Develop and perform risk reduction testing to demonstrate the potential performance increases and the operability/cost improvements for the new liquid booster engine. 

PHASE III: DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Military: High performance booster stage engines are required in order to launch payloads of military utility into the appropriate orbit. Commercial: As the growth in commercial spacelift systems continue, low-cost, high performance engines will enhance capability to deliver payloads to orbit. 


1: G.P. Sutton and O. Biblarz, "Rocket Propulsion Elements," 7th Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 2001, ISBN 0-471-32642-9.

2:  Oberkampf, W.L. and Trucano, T.G., "Verification and Validation in Computational Fluid Dynamics,"Vol. 38, pp. 209-272, Progress in Aerospace Sciences (2002).

3:  Yang, V et. al, Liquid Rocket Thrust Chambers: Aspects of Modeling, Analysis, and Design, Vol 200, Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics, Published by AIAA, Washington DC, 2004, ISBN 1-56347-223-6, pp 403-436.

4:  Oberkampf, W.L. & Trucano, T.G. "Verification and Validation in Computational Fluid Dynamics", Vol. 38, Progress in Aerospace Sciences, 2002. Pp. 209-272.

KEYWORDS: Booster Stage Rocket Engines, Verification And Validation, Assured Space Access, Low-cost Rocket Concepts 


Eric Paulson 

(661) 275-9688 

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