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Investigation of Advanced Propellants to Enable Single Stage to Orbit Launch Vehicles
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB EDWARDS AFB CA SPACE AND MISSILE PROPULSION DIV
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Single-Stage-To-Orbit SSTO launch vehicles designs offer the promise of reduced complexity and cost compared to multi-stage vehicles, as only one stage need be developed, produced, and maintained. Despite well-funded development efforts, no SSTO vehicles have been fielded to date. Existing chemical rocket and vehicle technologies do not enable feasible SSTO designs. In the future, new propellants with advanced properties could enable SSTO launch vehicles. A parametric sizing study was conducted to determine the rocket propulsion performance required. Bulk density, specific impulse, and main propulsion thrust-to-weight level were varied to determine the sensitivity of SSTO vehicle size to these parameters. Advanced propellants including strained-ring hydrocarbons and polynitrogen compounds are evaluated for their suitability in SSTO applications.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE