Practical Applications of Pressure-Fed LOX/CH4 Rocket Engines
The University of Texas at El Paso Aerospace Center is working on a family of LOX/CH4 pressure-fed rocket engines. The applications of a pressure-fed rocket engine include orbital launch vehicles and lunar ascent and descent vehicles. This dissertation focuses on the application of the CROME LOX/CH4 engines under development at UTEP. The dissertation contains three chapters on orbital launch vehicles and a fourth chapter on lunar descent/ascent vehicles. The first two chapters look at pressure-fed LOX/CH4 orbital launch vehicle design compared to an electric pump fed and a gas generator vehicle. The third chapter looks at the sensitivities in the design of a LOX/CH4 orbital launch vehicle. The fourth and final chapter looks at the sensitivities of a lunar vehicle capable of descent to the lunar surface and ascent back to lunar orbit. The results of the first two chapters show that a pressure-fed orbital launch vehicle needs to be much larger than an equivalent pump fed vehicle. The third chapter shows that the gross liftoff mass of a pressure-fed orbital launch vehicle is sensitive to the operating pressure of the propellant tanks and a key to pressure-fed orbital launch is an engine capable of producing significant thrust while operating at as low of a chamber pressure as possible. The fourth chapter shows that a lunar descent/ascent vehicle is sensitive to the thrust to weight ratio and the thrust to weight ratio should increases logarithmically as the payload mass increases. The four papers are not meant to be detailed, conceptual, or preliminary designs but a look at the consequences of possible design decisions. The results show some interesting sensitivities in the design of a pressure-fed vehicle.
Parks, James Susen, "Practical Applications of Pressure-Fed LOX/CH4 Rocket Engines" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29170620.