Development of a Prototype Rocket Engine for a Nanosat Launch Vehicle First Stage
DTIC, 22 January 2012
Abstract : The paper discusses the development of a 4,500 lbf thrust liquid oxygen (LOX)/ethanol rocket engine designed to power a family of suborbital Reusable Nanosat Launch Vehicles (RNLV). In order to meet the range of missions required under the project, the engine is designed to be able to operate over a large performance envelope corresponding to thrust level from 3,000 lbf to 5,000 lbf. Propellants are Introduced and mixed in the combustion chamber utilizing a combination of triplet and unlike doublet injector elements. In addition, film cooling is provided in order to extend the life of the ablative chamber. Ignition is accomplished with solid propellant ports mounted on the side of the chamber. Ten (10) static fire tests have been completed to validate the design and to characterize the engine's performance. Initial testing was conducted to validate the ignition algorithm and verify the engine basic integrity at startup. Further testing was conducted to verify engine performance before flight testing. Data shows that the engine can operate at thrust levels between 2500 and 5074 lbf. This successful engine development serves as a precursor to a future NLV first stage engine which will utilize LOX-propylene for added performance.