Spacecraft Propulsion

Department of Aerospace Engineering
University of Southern California (USC)

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AE-473 Spacecraft Propulsion

Course Outline

  1. Organization of the class. History of rocketry. Types of rockets. Units.
  2. Solar system. Orbital mechanics. Basic orbits, orbit perturbations, Hohmann transfer, maneuvers, delta-V. Launching sites.
  3. Thrust. Specific impulse. Rocket equation. Staging. Thermodynamics of fluid flow.
  4. Combustion. Chemical equilibrium.
  5. One-dimensional flow. Flow in the nozzles. Non-ideal flow. Shocks. Boundary layer.
  6. Ideal rocket, thrust coefficient, characteristics velocity. Nozzle types.
  7. Rocket heat transfer.
  8. Liquid rocket systems. Starting and ignition. Processes in combustion chamber. Injection. Liquid propellants.
  9. Solid rocket. Burn rate, erosive burning. Grain design. Solid propellants.
  10. Hybrid rockets.
  11. Thrust vector control.
  12. Advanced propulsion. Power sources: chemical, solar, nuclear. Electrostatic, electrothermal, electromagnetic thrusters.


P. G. Hill and C. R. Peterson, Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion, Addison-Wesley Publ. Co., 1992.
There are a number of excellent books covering various areas of spacecraft propulsion.


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