Design and performance evaluations of a LO2/methane reaction control engine

Aaron Johnson, University of Texas at El Paso


Liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid methane (LCH4) are a propellant combination viewed as a potential enabling technology for spacecraft propulsion. Reasons why LOX/LCH4 is being used as an alternative propellant source include: it is less toxic than other propellants, it has the possibility to be harvested on extraterrestrial soil, LCH4 has a higher energy density than liquid hydrogen (LH2; commonly used on vehicle main engines), and LOX/LCH4 has comparable performance to other well-known propellant combinations. Through the continued partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) a LOX/LCH4 reaction control engine (RCE) was developed and researched. The RCE was developed for the purpose of being integrated into two UTEP LOX/LCH4 vehicles, Janus and Daedalus, and was designed based on previous engines tested both at NASA and the center for space exploration and technology research (cSETR) lab. This report details the design process and manufacturing of the engine, cold flow studies evaluating injector design, and preliminary hot fire tests to give insight into engine performance.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering|Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Aaron, "Design and performance evaluations of a LO2/methane reaction control engine" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10243823.