Performance and Thrust-to-Weight Optimization of the Dual-Expander Aerospike Nozzle Upper Stage Rocket Engine
AIR FORCE RESEARCH LAB EDWARDS AFB CA PROPULSION DIR/SPACE AND MISSILE PROPULSION DIV
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The Air Force Institute of Technology AFIT is designing a cryogenic Dual-Expander Aerospike Nozzle DEAN upper stage rocket engine. The design goals for the engine are reusability, 50,000 pounds-force 222 kilonewtons vacuum thrust, 464 seconds of vacuum specific impulse and a thrust-to-weight ratio of 106.5. Utilizing past AFIT work as a foundation, an enhanced system-level design model was created that conservatively estimates engine performance and weight. The assumptions and resulting engine designs of this study highlight important design choices i.e. material selection. This study discusses an engine design meeting the engine thrust-to-weight ratio and reusability design goals but falling short of the vacuum specific impulse design goal. The study shows the DEAN design is competitive to current operational upper stage engines. Potential future assumptions and design choices are identified and warrant further study.
- Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines