A Research on Designing a Sustainable, Reusable, Low-Cost Single-Stage-to-Orbit Spacecraft (SSTO)

Categories: Тhе Space

The topic of research that this bibliographic essay is meant to assist with is that of designing a sustainable, reusable, low-cost Single-Stage-To-Orbit spacecraft, also known as an SSTO. An SSTO is a form of rocket that makes its’ orbital ascension without dropping off empty tanks or used-up engines. Common problems encounter with theoretical designs of SSTOs is that you are unable to stage away a bulky, inefficient, low-atmosphere engine in favor of a lighter and more efficient upper-atmosphere one. As such, any engine considered has to be useful in both of these diverse conditions.

In addition, any SSTO is unable to shed any non-fuel weight during ascent, which means that weight is somehow even more important than it would be in a staged craft. This demands a both more powerful engine and lighter construction, two attributes that typically do not end well when combined.

Sources contained in this article cover such diverse areas as fuel potency, engine thermodynamics, gas flows in combustion chambers, weight-reducing design techniques, and cheaper alternatives to conventional rocketry materials.

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Of note is the first resource provided, which is a course material used by MIT to teach their rocketry program, which covers all equations and mechanics in more mundane rocketry engineering. Taking all of the articles listed below should provide the reader with a helpful and comprehensive knowledge of the design process of not only rockets, but the more challenging SSTOs, as well. Of course, being produced by a human, the following listings are far from perfect, and mostly likely a few chinks in the knowledge required have been left open.

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Hopefully, the reader should be able to follow citings in the given materials in order to complete their needed knowledge base.

Sutton, George. (2001). Rocket Propulsion Elements. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

This is a textbook that covers basic to advanced principles of rocketry. The book is intended to help educate new engineers in this field of study, and is used by MIT in the teaching of their rocketry program. It is for the most part not historical, but technical, containing equations for determining exhaust velocity, force exerted, expansion rate of gases, etc. and also overarching design philosophies, such as different nozzle types, pump setups, and various weight-reducing techniques. the process of designing, and certainly would be of great aid to any textwise researcher. It is also as aforementioned useful in education of new engineers. It underlines and explains mechanisms and concepts used in every part of a rocket-propelled craft, from gas expansion in the nozzle to how to avoid cavitation in the fuel pumps. The only thing not explained in the text is reentry profiles.

Blackman, A. (1964). Tribrid Rocket Combustion Chamber. USPTO. Patent Number US3158997 A.

This patent details the theoretical inner workings of a tripropellant vortex-flow combustion chamber and nozzle. The key part of the design is a coating along the inner surface consisting of a polymer embedded with combustible pellets, which melt and become sucked into the vortex, where they burn, distant from the walls. The vortex also has promise for helping to focus reaction heat near the center of the chamber, helping to provide cooler wall temperatures. This patent is of course not broadly useful like the textbook, but would be a helpful inspiration point for anyone beginning work on either a tripropellant engine or vortex-flow engine. There are limited useful statistics available, meaning this would be of use only in the very early, less data-concerned steps of a design process. It would be useful to explore the sources that cite this one, for they probably contain more in-depth research on the subject, and perhaps even a working schematic.

Hudson, G. (1991). History of the Phoenix VTOL SSTO and Recent Developments in Single Stage Launch Systems. ISCOPS AAS 91-643

This article has a more historical and less technical style to it, focusing on the development of the Phoenix thought project as opposed to lining out methods of implementation of it. The article also details the author’s impressions on how his Phoenix has inspired other designs over the years. This would be a useful source for a journalist composing a relevant article, being less focused with technical specifications, which are usually not fit for popular reading. This lack of fixation on specifications makes it undesirable for engineering-based research. Any other sources that cite this one are most likely going to be journal articles or other sources intended for popular consumption, which of course would be of no use in a design process.

Schmidtchen, U. (1993). Safe handling of large quantities of liquid hydrogen. Cryogenics, Vol. 33 Issue ., p813-817. DOI: 10.1016/0011-2275(93)90193-R

This article is peripheral to the topic at hand; most any propulsion system uses cryogenic storage, and this article covers methods and techniques of keeping cryogenic fluid on hand safely. Concepts explored in the source can also be used for on-ship storage systems as well. Knowledge of how to safely integrate a coolant system into a vessel is vital, for if it is not possible to stably contain fuel aboard the craft, then it will hardly be able to fly. The article is definitely useful as far as LH2 storage is concerned. Knowledge provided about storage of Liquid Hydrogen is very likely to be applicable in the storage of other required cryogenic fluids, which perhaps makes this source more versatile and useful than originally anticipated. The author’s points, sources, and techniques all check out and are credible. Additional reading over the topic is provided, making this a very solid launch point for looking into cryogenic systems.

Andrea Bucchi, Claudio Bruno, and Alessandro Congiunti. “Transpiration Cooling Performance in LOX/Methane Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines”, Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 42, No. 3 (2005), pp. 476-486.DOI: 10.2514/1.7587

This source outlines differential equations which can be used to determine temperature at the walls of a LOX-Methane combustion chamber. The equations are simplified, neglecting vaporization during the process. This makes the article of limited use and more useful for providing requisite knowledge for one who is trying to resolve more accurate equations. The article is also fairly recent. The article is written in collaboration by the head professor and engineer at AIAA, so the author’s credibility is not in question. This paper will not be of extended use over the course of a project, but has been peer-cited numerous times. Any truly ambitious researcher would continue searching for a set of more accurate equations that do model vaporization, or find a way to conduct tests to derive that information themselves.

Fred Mitlitsky, Andrew H. Weisberg, and Blake Myers. “Vehicular Hydrogen Storage Using Lightweight Tanks”, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (1999).

This source covers plans for research in lightweight hydrogen tank materials. The intended use of such stored hydrogen is for use in fuel cells, although such technology would be easily applicable to launch systems, reducing the weight of tank that needs to be lifted, which then reduces the mass of the engine needed to lift it, causing large savings all around. Lightweight fuel cell systems are discussed as well, which are of weight-reducing potential in payload mass as well. The article is written by collaboration between three ranking staff at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Statistics are widely placed in the article, giving a solid base of data to work from in the course of research. Graphs are present as well, which allows pictorial analysis.

Verma, S. B., Stark, R., & Haidn, O. (2006). Relation between shock unsteadiness and the origin of side-loads inside a thrust optimized parabolic rocket nozzle. Aerospace science and technology, 10(6), 474-483.

The effects of high acceleration on missile stability and efficiency are catalogued in this paper. Missiles, while not rockets, are very similar and the concept should be able to transfer easily. Plume effects disrupt aerodynamic stability of the craft and harm acceleration. The paper discusses potential ways to alleviate these effects. In addition, the origin and nature of outward pressure forces on the bell of rocket nozzles is researched, allowing future designs to reduce unexpected spikes in pressure which greatly increases nozzle longevity. The paper is wonderfully cited, backing every non-subject claim with a well-respected source. The few uncited claims are those that were under research, and they have supporting data included in the paper. The article would not raise conjecture over its’ validity if it were used.

Beck, James E. (2011). Aerospike Engine. AccessScience Articles. Access Science.

The paper provides a middling-depth explanation of aerospike nozzles and their basic prinicples of operation. No statistics, specifications, or other like data are provided. This paper is written for a general education purpose. The paper is well cited, backing its’ statements with those made by researchers at the AIAA. This source would be used as a breadth area of sorts in research, giving basic knowledge over an aerospike engine before more intense research would take place. While the paper is credible and would be a solid source to cite, the need to will most likely not arise during the construction of any technical paper.

Chen, S. S., Veres, J. P., & Fittje, J. E. (2006). Turbopump Design and Analysis Approach for Nuclear Thermal Rockets. AIP Conference Proceedings, 813(1), 522-530. DOI:10.1063/1.2169230

The article is a very in-depth examination and explanation of the design process for turbopumps intended for use in a Nuclear Thermal Rocket. The author discusses many programs used for the design process, and delves into deep detail over how each particular piece of software compensates for physical limitations, and also presents a data table representing some sample pumps designed with each program. Towards the end, the author briefly considers the process used to create a liquid-fuel turbopump. This article is a wonderful source of references and technical data for a variety of programs useful during the process of designing a turbopump. The author’s knowledge comes from personal experience with the programs, as well as prior knowledge of turbopump systems. This source is good for both citing for academic reasons as well as use in finding further research tools.

Majdalani, J. J., Flandro, G. A., & Fischbach, S. R. (2005). Some rotational corrections to the acoustic energy equation in injection-driven enclosures. Physics Of Fluids, 17(7), 074102. doi:10.1063/1.1920647

In this article, as the title would imply, the author outlines improved methods of calculating the energy available in injection-fueled enclosures. Such improvements allow increased engine efficiency and longevity when taken into account during the design process. The information in the article is very in-depth. This article is well-cited with sources from the country’s top colleges, and over 50 sources to boot. It has in-depth, backed equations that accurately represent what they are meant to in an engine. This source is likely a highly useful resource during an engine’s design process, and one that is frequently used and cited.

Kulwer Academic. (2003). Advanced Design Problems in Aerospace Engineering. Mathematical Concepts and Methods in Science and Engineering. Plenum Publishers.

An encyclopedia of the most difficult problems in the aerospace field, this book begins its’ listing with the focus of this bibliography – the SSTO. The book provides a history of the problem, along with previously-suggested methods of resolving it. It then outlines the major problems, most notably mass fraction and engine falloff, then presents the mathematical constructs that were used to predict those problems, and which may be used to resolve them. SSTOs are covered solely in the first chapter, but the rest of the source contains invaluable information.

This book is very reliable, being constructed and published by a reputable publishing house. The author assumes prior knowledge in the field; this is provided by the sources listed above. The text reaches to perhaps the furthest depths of the field among those listed, and would be the final source of interest during the quest that is research and design. Any vital or major claims are cited with well-referenced texts, or are common knowledge in the field. The book is more concerned with mathematical modeling of flight systems as opposed to machining and constructing methods; another source is required for that. This is an deep, professional-level source for rocketry and SSTO modeling and feasibility design.

Deutsche Forschungemeinschaft. (2005). Basic Research and Technologies for Two-Stage-to Orbit Vehicles. Collaborative Research Centers. WILEY-VCH.

This German text focuses entirely on SSTO and Two-Stage-to-Orbit (TSTO) designs. A large amount of research was put into methods and technologies for developing and testing design methods for this end, and all of it is catalogued here. The book, as usual, explains what a SSTO and TSTO are, as well as line out major problems, most notably mass fraction and engine falloff, then presents the mathematical constructs that were used to predict those problems, and which may be used to resolve them. The book sees TSTO as being much more practical than SSTO, and while it does spend time on the subject of an SSTO, a majority of it is spent on the world of the TSTO. Most of the data in the book are a result of original research, so instead of citation, results are placed in the text.

The main rocketry concepts are, again, either common knowledge in the field or are cited with prominent papers. Well-formatted tables containing concrete statistics are presented, which help to explain concepts in the text. The book covers both mathematical modeling of flight systems as well as actual engineering solutions. Historical attempts at the subject matter are listed, analyzed, and improved upon as the text progresses, which shows that many a bright mind with a desire to improve on already-built systems was put to work on this topic.

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A Research on Designing a Sustainable, Reusable, Low-Cost Single-Stage-to-Orbit Spacecraft (SSTO). (2021, Sep 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-research-on-designing-a-sustainable-reusable-low-cost-single-stage-to-orbit-spacecraft-ssto-essay

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