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AE 3310
Introduction to Aerospace Vehicle Performance
18.

Rocket Engines and Launch Vehicles


18.1 Momentum and Thrust Equation
18.2 Specific Impulse
18.3 Rocket Equation
18.4 Rocket Mass Relationships

Rocket Performance Thrust Equation

We will derive the thrust equation by starting with conservation


of momentum using an example of a static thrust test for a
rocket on a test stand.
Assumptions:
1. Static (test stand is not moving)
2. Steady exit velocity (ue) and steady propellant flow rate ( m&)
3. Quasi-1D flow

Rocket Performance Thrust Equation

&e
mu

d
&
F

u
dV

u
dm
x dt x
x

CV
CS
Sum of forces
applied to the
CV (Solid body
on the fluid)
(onlycareaboutx
directionfor1Dflow)

Change in total momentum


instantaneously contained
within CV
(CVitselfisnotacceleratingfora
staticteststand)

Net flow-rate
of momentum
leaving the CV
(steadyexitvelocityand
propellantflowrate)

Rocket Performance Thrust Equation

1D-Force Summation (for left-hand side of momentum


equation):
F T p p A

Substitute into Momentum Equation: T ( p0 pe ) Ae mu


&e

& e pe p0 Ae
T mu

Optimumexpansionwhenpe=p0and2ndtermgoestozero
Overexpansion:pe<p0(degradesthrust)
Underexpansion:pe>p0(improvesthrust?No,becauseueimpacted)

Rocket Performance Specific Impulse


Sometimes convenient to define equivalent exhaust velocity:
pe p0
ueq ue
Ae

m&

& eq
T mu

WherethrusthasunitsofNewtons:

kg m
2
s

[N]

Thrust is an instantaneous measure of the ability of a rocket to


accelerate a mass. Impulse measures the total momentum
gain over the course of an entire burn:
& eqdt m pueq
I Tdt mu

WhereimpulsehasunitsofNewtonseconds:
kg m
N s
s

If we normalize the impulse by the propellant mass, we get a


measure of efficiency (impulse per unit mass of propellant):
I
T
ueq
m p m&

Withunits:

N s
m

kg
s

Rocket Performance Specific Impulse


By convention, we typically define a specific impulse which is
the impulse per weight of fuel on Earth:

ueq
I
I sp

mp gE gE

Wherespecificimpulsehasunitsofseconds:

N s
m
s
and

9.8
E
m
s2
kg 2
s

The gravity term just provides a common reference point to


compare rocket fuel efficiencies. An efficient fuel minimizes the
mass of fuel required to achieve a certain impulse, and thus
higher Isp is desired.

Rocket Performance Rocket Equation


u

Static thrust test is a simplified model because


the engine mass doesnt change.
In reality, propellant mass (especially for launch
vehicles) accounts for a majority of the initial
mass, and the vehicle mass varies a lot over the
course of a burn.

MgE

dm

ue

At initial time, t0, the mass of the vehicle is M and


the velocity is u.
At time t0 + dt, the mass of the vehicle is M dm,
the velocity is u + du, and the incremental
propellant mass dm has an exhaust velocity ue.

Rocket Performance Rocket Equation


u

Recall the momentum equation, now aligned in


the u-direction:
d
F

u
udV udm&
dt CV

CS

Since the vehicle is no longer fixed to the stand,


we define the net forces on the system in the udirection:
F p p A D Mg cos

Forcedueto Aerodynamic Componentof


dragforce
pressure
weightopposing
differentialat
thrustintheu
nozzleexit
direction

MgE

The instantaneous change in momentum inside


the CV is no longer 0:
d
d

udV

M dm u du Mu
dt
dt

dm

CV

ue

negligible

d
d
udV Mu Mdu udm dmdu Mu

dt CV
dt
d
du
&
udV M
mu

dt CV
dt

Rocket Performance Rocket Equation


u

Recall the momentum equation, now aligned in


the u-direction:
d
F

u
udV udm&
dt CV

CS

Since the vehicle is moving, the net flow-rate of


momentum leaving the CV is as follows:
& mu
&
udm& mu

CS

MgE

Substituting terms into the momentum equation:

pe p0 Ae D Mg E cos M

du
& mu
& mu
&e
mu
dt

Solving for the acceleration term:

du 1
D
& e pe p0 Ae g E cos

mu
dt M
M

dm

ue

& eq
mu

du m&
D

ueq g E cos
dt M
M

Rocket Performance Rocket Equation


u

du m&
D

ueq g E cos
dt M
M

Multiply through by dt:


dm
D
dM

D
ueq g E cos dt
ueq g E cos
dt
M
M
M

M
Sign flip because: dm dM
du

MgE

To find required u (or delta-V), integrate.


For simplified formulation make the following
assumptions:

Negligible drag (D = 0)
Negligible gravity (Remove gE term)

Equivalent exhaust velocity (ueq) approximately constant

dm

uf

du u ueq

Mf

Mf
dM
M
ueq ln
ueq ln
M
M
Mf

Substitute definition of specific impulse:

ue

M
u I sp g E ln
Mf

The Rocket
Equation
Here,Mwithoutasubscriptdenotes
theinitialmassoftherocket.

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Rocket Mass Relationships


Often when comparing performance of rocket engines, it
becomes useful to decompose the mass terms:

M f M propellant M payload M structure M propellant


M
Mass Ratio =

Mf
Mf
M payload M structure

Additionally, it can be useful to define other mass ratios,


including the payload ratio () and the structural coefficient ():
M structure
M payload

M structure M propellant
M
Substituting these terms back into the rocket equation:
M payload M structure M propellant

M
1
u I sp g E ln
I sp g E ln
I sp g E ln

Mf
M

(1

payload
structure

As an exercise, try to make substitutions to convince yourself


the above expression is true.

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Rocket Mass Relationships

Notethattheseresultsarewithoutgravitationallossesintherocketequation!
Thesituationismuchworseforalaunchvehicle!

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Rocket Mass Relationships Electric Propulsion

LEOto
Moon/Mars
Transfer

EarthtoLEO
Transfer

u I sp g E ln

SolidRocket
Propellant
Liquid
Hydrocarbon
Propellant
Liquid
Hydrogen
Propellant
Electric
Propulsion
Propellant

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Rocket Mass Relationships


From the previous two plots, it would seem that the achievable
payloads are very limited for solid and liquid propellant types.
So why is electric propulsion only used for in-space propulsion
architectures and not launch vehicles?
We are missing a comparison of the thrust capability of these
types of propulsion architectures:

Electric propulsion devices feature high specific impulse, but at


very low thrust levels.

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Rocket Mass Relationships


Another useful mass relationship is the propellant ratio ():

M propellant
M

M propellant
M payload M structure M propellant

Mf
M

To relate these three mass ratios, start with a trivial definition:


M payload M structure M propellant
M
M
1

structure
M
M
M
M
M

Rearranging terms:

M structure
M

Now recalling the definition of the structural coefficient:

M structure
M structure

M structure M propellant M M payload

M structure M M payload

1
M
M

Rocket Mass Relationships


M structure
1
1 1
M
Solving for :

1
1 1
1

Thus we have a single equation relating these three mass


ratios.

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Rocket Mass Relationships

As can be seen, payload fraction varies linearly with propellant


ratio, with the slope set by the structural coefficient.

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Example Problem 1
A launch vehicle places a mass M = 125,000-kg with a payload
fraction = 0.3 into LEO. The transfer stage must supply a V
of 4.3-km/s to put the spacecraft on a Mars transfer orbit.

Someuseful
equations:

1
u I sp g E ln

(1

tburn

M propellant

m&p

T m&p ueq m&p I sp g E

1
1

>19,000years!

Lessons from Example Problem 1


1. This solid rocket motor is not a feasible transfer stage, because the
specific impulse is too low to achieve the necessary v for a payload
fraction of = 0.3.
2. The liquid rocket engine is the most feasible architecture, with a
reasonable structural coefficient of = 0.11 and enough thrust to
achieve a reasonably low burn time.
3. While the electric propulsion at first seems like a reasonable
architecture choice due to its high specific impulse and low propellant
ratio, the thrust is too low and the burn time is much too long.

Low-thrust electric propulsion architectures actually work by applying


continuous thrust as opposed to our instantaneous assumption (requires
different performance equations)
Can achieve high-speeds over a long period of time (deep-space missions)
Also can be used for applications that require small v, such as orbital
correction maneuvers or attitude control
Chemical propulsion engines are typically energy-limited, whereas electric
propulsion devices are typically power-limited

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Example Problem 2

A satellite with a 500-kg gross mass is launched into an orbit


with an inclination angle of 60. The satellite needs to transition
to an equatorial orbit at the apoapsis of the current orbit, when
the velocity equals 10 km/s. What is the maximum mass that
can be delivered to the equatorial orbit using a chemical
propellant with Isp = 300-seconds? an electric propulsion
architecture with Isp = 1,000-seconds? When can each of these
be used?
2v
km
i
60

2
v
sin

2
v
sin
30

10

2
s
2

v 2v sin

IfIsp=300s:

Mf

IfIsp=1000s:

Mf

M
e

v
I sp g E

M
e

v
I sp g E

(500 kg)

10000 m/s

300 s 9.8 m/s2

(500 kg)

10000 m/s

1000 s 9.8 m/s 2

16.66 kg

180.22 kg

Lessons from Example 2

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1. If the only goal was to deliver the maximum mass to the


equatorial orbit, the electric propulsion architecture would be
chosen every time.
2. Considering the lessons learned about burn-time from
Example Problem 1, we can guess the chemical propulsion
burn would take on the order of seconds, whereas the
electric propulsion burn would take on the order of months.
3. There is a tradeoff of payload fraction and burn time
between these propulsion architectures:

If we need to deliver small payloads to orbit quickly, we would


choose chemical propulsion
If we can wait longer, we can deliver larger payloads to orbit with
electric propulsion