The Design and Testing of A 500 Lbf Liquid Oxygen/Liquid Methane Engine

Manuel Jesus Herrera, University of Texas at El Paso


The development of liquid oxygen/liquid methane (LOX/LCH4) propulsion systems has recently become a topic of interest ever since this particular propellant combination was determined to be a suitable candidate for use in space exploration, more specifically missions to Mars. This propellant combination is unique because the propellants can be synthesized from local resources on Mars, a process called In-situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). ISRU would allow for spacecrafts to be lighter and/or increase its payload capacity to Mars-bound missions because the vehicle would not have to store the propellants required for the voyage back to earth. For this reason, The University of Texas at El Paso’s (UTEP) Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) is currently conducting research in liquid oxygen and liquid methane propulsion. The Centennial Restartable Oxygen Methane Engine (CROME) is a 500 – 125 lbf pressure fed engine. CROME serves as a platform to further understand and advance LOX/LCH4 propulsion technology, but also to give student’s knowledge, exposure, and relevant experience in the process of designing, developing, and hot-fire testing a LOX/LCH4 rocket engine. This engine is being designed in three phases: D1, D2 and D3. Currently, CROME is in the initial design/development phase, D1, which is a ground test engine whose intent is to demonstrate successful operation, validate design operating conditions, and characterize engine performance through hot-fire testing at the D1 Test Facility located at the tRIAc facility. This thesis describes the engine design, gives an overview of the D1 Test Facility, reviews the objectives of the engine test campaign, explains how the engine will be tested, and gives detailed results of any testing conducted on the facility and/or engine before the submission of this thesis. It also lists recommendations that should be made to the test facility that will not be used during initial testing and future engine development plans.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering

Recommended Citation

Herrera, Manuel Jesus, "The Design and Testing of A 500 Lbf Liquid Oxygen/Liquid Methane Engine" (2019). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI13886133.