Rocket propulsion systems can be classified according to the type of energy source (chemical, nuclear, or solar), the basic function (booster stage, sustained attitude control, orbit station keeping, etc.), the type of vehicle (aircraft, missile, assisted take-off, space vehicle, etc.), size, type of propellant, type of construction, or number of rocket propulsion units used in a given vehicle. Each is treated in more detail in subsequent chapters.
Another way is to classify by the method of producing thrust. A thermodynamic expansion of a gas is used in the majority of practical rocket propulsion concepts. The internal energy of the gas is converted into the kinetic energy of the exhaust flow and the thrust is produced by the gas pressure on the surfaces exposed to the gas, as will be explained later. This same thermo-
Combustion chamber section
Combustion chamber section
FIGURE 1-2. Simplified diagram of a ramjet with a supersonic inlet (converging and diverging flow passage).
dynamic theory and the same generic equipment (nozzle) is used for jet propulsion, rocket propulsion, nuclear propulsion, laser propulsion, solar-thermal propulsion, and some types of electrical propulsion. Totally different methods of producing thrust are used in other types of electric propulsion or by using a pendulum in a gravity gradient. As described below, these electric systems use magnetic and/or electric fields to accelerate electrically charged molecules or atoms at very low densities. It is also possible to obtain a very small acceleration by taking advantage of the difference in gravitational attraction as a function of altitude, but this method is not explained in this book.
The Chinese developed and used solid propellant in rocket missiles over 800 years ago and military bombardment rockets were used frequently in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, the significant developments of rocket propulsion took place in the twentieth century. Early pioneers included the Russian Konstantin E. Ziolkowsky, who is credited with the fundamental rocket flight equation and his 1903 proposals to build rocket vehicles. The German Hermann Oberth developed a more detailed mathematical theory; he proposed multistage vehicles for space flight and fuel-cooled thrust chambers. The American Robert H. Goddard is credited with the first flight using a liquid propellant rocket engine in 1926. An early book on the subject was written by the Viennese engineer Eugen Sänger. For rocket history see Refs. 1-3 to 1-7.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.