Structural Design of Thrust Measurement System for Cryogenic Rocket Engines

Abner J Moreno Tarango, University of Texas at El Paso


The Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) has been the leader in academia on the development of Liquid Oxygen (LO2) and Liquid Methane (LCH 4) propulsion technologies. One of the projects being developed at cSETR is a suborbital vehicle whose mission is to evaluate performance parameters, demonstrate restart capability, and demonstrate the propulsion system operation in microgravity. This vehicle, called Daedalus, will use a 500-lbf LO 2-LCH4 rocket engine that can be throttled down to 100-lbf. To accomplish this goal, UTEP partnered with the El Paso County to lease a plot of land next to an airport in Fabens, Texas. This land will be for the construction and development of the Technology Research and Innovation Accelerated Park (tRIAc). The following work describes the details on the design process, analysis, decisions, and design characteristics of the liquid oxygen-liquid engine rocket engine testing facility. Several design requirements of the systems and the subsystems were developed. Those design requirements will be covered in detail in this document. The tRIAc will serve as a test facility, which includes different assets such as the Static Thrust Stand (STS), Load Cell Module (LCM), and a Cryogenic Propellant Feed System (CPFS) The Static Thrust Stand (STS) will house the Load Cell Module (LCM) during testing, and the propellant will be delivered using the Cryogenic Propellant Feed System (CPFS). The Static Thrust Stand (STS) was designed in house by the cSETR, which will serve as a framework and support to load cell module (LCM), and the cryogenic propellant feed system (CPFS). Also a vertical test stand was designed for later stages of testing. Both of them have the same capabilities and can easily adapt the LCM and CPFS. Both structures will be integrated into a static interface located at the tRIAc in Fabens, Texas. The load cell module (LCM) will measure the thrust generated by the LO 2-LCH4 rocket engines developed by cSETR. Due to the variation of thrust provided by the rocket engines, the LCM has the capability of adapting to the different needs. The loads cells can be changed and measure thrust up to 2,000 lbf. Also, the system is designed to be integrated between the rocket engine cage and the STS located at tRIAc. The propellant delivery system has the capability to transfer pressurized liquid oxygen and methane to both the 500 and 2,000 lbf engines. The system is equipped with pressure and temperature probes, which determine the state of the fluids during the test. This will help us to understand the flow of cryogenic fluids throughout the entire system. The data acquired, such as thrust, chamber pressure, inlet pressures, tank pressure, propellant flow rates, and engine temperatures will be used to develop a system flow model that would facilitate future designs.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Moreno Tarango, Abner J, "Structural Design of Thrust Measurement System for Cryogenic Rocket Engines" (2018). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10827828.