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Rockets for Dummies The Physics Behind Rockets

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Presentation on theme: "Rockets for Dummies The Physics Behind Rockets"— Presentation transcript:

1 Rockets for Dummies The Physics Behind Rockets
By:John Berrigan, For:OAPT 2009, May 29th

2 Why space? Cool factor. Canadian on ISS for 6 months…arrived today.
RMC contributions. Who applied for the canadian Astronaut Program? International competitions/milestones. X-prizes Return to moon

3 Why Rockets? Cool Factor In the news
Lots of current applications (lots of great videos at the sites, be sure to check them out) Sub orbital tourism Spacex (go to their website for cool videos) Virgin galactic Xcor Rocket Racing League Armadillo (“doom” game creators rocket) Blue Horizon (“Amazon” owner) To name a few

4 The Physics Needed Conservation of momentum Impulse Newtons Laws
A GREAT Application for Newton’s 3rd law Electrostatics Magnetism

5 Conservation of Momentum
From Newtons 3rd law (“prime” value represents the final value) FAB = - FBA mAaA = - mBaB mAΔVA/ΔtA = - mBΔVB /ΔtB but Δt’s are the same so they cancel out mA(VA’ – VA) = - mB(VB’ – VB) Rearranging, mAVA+ mBVB = mAVA’+ mBVB’ pT = pT’ Total Momentum Before = Total Momentum After

6 Impulse From Newton’s 2nd Law FA = mAaA FA = mAΔVA/ΔtA Rearranging
FAΔtA = mAΔVA FAΔtA = mA(VA’ –VA) FAΔtA = mAVA’ – mAVA FAΔtA = pA’ –pA FAΔtA = ΔpA

7 Thrust equation Impulse = FthrustΔt = Δp Fthrust Δt = Δ(mV)
Some calculus FthrustΔt = (Δm)V + m(ΔV) From the frame of reference of the rocket engine, it is losing mass and the velocity that it is throwing the mass out is constant, so…. Δm isn’t zero and ΔV is zero FthrustΔt = (Δm)V Or Fthrust = (Δm/Δt)V

8 Implications What does the equation Fthrust = (Δm/Δt)V imply?
To get the largest thrust you either want to throw the mass as fast as possible (large V), or throw out as much mass as possible in the shortest amount of time (large Δm/Δt). What is better?

9 Conservation of momentum
A 12 kg frictionless cart has 8 kg of “fuel” to be thrown off the cart. The fuel can be thrown off at 10 m/s relative to the cart. V 12 kg 8 kg v12 12 kg 8 kg pT = mv = 20(0) = 0 pT’ = mv12 + mv8 = 12v12 + 8(v12-10) = 20v pT = pT’ 0 = 20v12 – 80 V12 = 4

10 What if mass is thrown in 2 parts? In two 4 kg chunks!
V 12 kg 4 v16 12 kg 4 pT = mv = 20(0) = 0 pT’ = mv16 + mv4 = 16v16 + 4(v16-10) = 20v pT = pT’ 0 = 20v16 – 40 V16 = 2

11 So final velocity is faster if done in smaller parts!!
12 kg 4 kg v12 12 kg 4 pT = mv = 16(2) = 32 pT’ = mv12 + mv4 = 12v12 + 4(v12-10) = 16v pT = pT’ 32 = 16v12 – 40 V12 = 72/16 V12 = 4.5 So final velocity is faster if done in smaller parts!!

12 What are the implications of this?
What is the smallest mass you can practically throw off? 1 g? 0.01 g? 1 ng?? Is an electron possible? Problem is there is a lot of mass left behind… So real answer is an atom. So the most efficient engine throws out one atom at a time. This is called an ion engine!!

13 So What to do with this Info?
There are always pros and cons when doing things. For throwing a smaller amount of mass out: Pros: you get much higher final velocity. Cons: Very low thrust. Imagine throwing out one atom at a time..not much force can be generated.

14 For Throwing lots of mass out at a time:
Pro: Higher thrust Con: Slower final velocity If you want to get out of a “gravity well”. You want high thrust so you throw lots of mass out at a time. If you want to go faster, low thrust is fine. Efficiency is key for this!!!

15 Specific Impulse (Isp)
We need to introduce a way to deal with how efficient a rocket engine design is. Specific impulse is a way to do this. By definition, Isp is the length of time 1 kg of fuel can produce 9.8 N of thrust.

16 Isp Isp actually makes some sense.
If one engine has an Isp of 3 s and the other 300 s which one is better? If it takes 3 s to produce the 9.8 N of thrust you are using the fuel very quickly. If it takes 300 s to produce the 9.8 N of thrust, you are taking a long time to use the mass and it is therefore much more efficient.

17 Applications How do we use the Isp formula and thrust formulas?
Example If a rocket engine has an Isp of 300 s, how much fuel must be used to produce 1000N of thrust? Isp FΔt = Δm(v) 9.8(300) = 1v V = 2940 m/s Thrust F = (Δm/Δt)(v) 1000 = (Δm/Δt)(2940) Δm/Δt = kg/s

18 Combining formulas If we combine the thrust and ISP formulas we get the equation, Fthrust = (Δm/Δt)(Isp*9.8) So why don’t we use high ISP rocket engines all the time? Has to do with the physics and thrust to mass ratio.

19 Rocket Engine design Three main parts
You need something the “throw”. Which is the fuel. You need Energy. Used to throw the fuel. You need some sort of nozzle. Used to direct the fuel in the opposite direction you want to go.

20 Energy So where can we get the energy from?
Easiest to get is from chemical energy. So you need to have 2 substances. A fuel and an oxidizer. When the two substances react energy is released.

21 Fuel What “fuel” should we use?
If we use a chemical rocket we need to use chemicals that allows for a lot of energy to be released when they burn, but at the same time be safe to handle. Liquid oxygen and hydrogen is the best combo in terms of efficiency. (Isp ~ 400 s) Lots of energy is released as well as small molecular mass, 18 amu, being thrown out the back end but hard to develop due to cryogenic issues and large tankage mass due to low density of H2.

22 Nozzle We want the fuel thrown out the back. Inside the chamber two chemicals react. So here a series of a simple motor designs. Why is the next one better than the previous? thrust

23 Smaller opening, higher pressure.
Using PV = nRT, means higher temperature. Higher temp means higher velocity of particles. thrust Why not make the hole really tiny? Rocket engine will blow up or be too heavy to lift with the thrust produced. Nozzle redirects the released particles in a backward direction to increase the forward thrust. thrust

24 Why not make the nozzle even bigger?
2 reasons: There is a mass penalty, a bigger nozzle can have a detrimental over all effect. If in atmosphere, Expansion issues involving the gas in the nozzle. As the gas expands in the nozzle, its pressure decreases. So the gas can actually get below the atmospheric conditions so the atmosphere can leak into the nozzle increasing drag on the rocket. If the bell is to small the gas can leak out of the nozzle lowering over all thrust. So the nozzle should be designed for the atmospheric conditions it is to be launched in.

25 Nozzle design Ideal rocket exhaust Under expanded rocket exhaust
Over expanded rocket exhaust

26 Other Chemical Fuel sources?
Solid motors: Combines fuel and oxidizer.. Simplest rocket engine but low ISP. Can’t be shut off (Isp = 270 s) Other fuels: Rubber/Nitrous oxide. Low ISP, “safer” do to non cryogenic sources of fuel. (Isp = 235 s) Oxygen/Kerosene. Reasonable ISP, smaller tankage mass. (Isp = 275 s) Hydrazine (Isp = 220 s) Nasty stuff…Benefit Long storage

27 Nitrous motor test From yesterdays press release

28 Other Energy sources The one thing that you need is to some how get the molecules of the fuel moving fast out the back of the rocket. So moving fast means high temperature. Chemical rockets have a limited amount of energy that can be released during the reaction. So alternative is using a nuclear reactor and use the fuel, preferably H2 due to low a.m.u. or even water which is easier to store, as a coolant. The hot “fuel”/Coolant is then thrown out the back. How fast is dependent upon “reactor” design. Isp is around 800 s

29 Electrostatics A nuclear engine is restricted by the materials used in the reactor. Don’t want it to melt. Another way is speed up charged particles is a charged plate. So you ionize the particles and send them in between a charged plate. Use solar cells for the power to ionize the atoms and to create the voltage for the plates. This is an ion engine. Limited power though. Isp = 3000 s.

30 Ion Engine Biggest problem is wear and tear on the electrodes.
They have been used for EXTENDED periods on the deep space 1 mission, and currently on the DAWN mission. Some satellites are now using ion engines for orbit adjustments. New engine design called VASIMR. Variable Specific Impulse Magnetic Rocket. VERY cool Technology. Best to use Nuclear reactor as a source of energy for greater power/Thrust. Can adjust the Magnetic field/Heating to change flow of ions. So high thrust or low thrust. Isp theoretically ranges from 3 000s to s.

31 VASIMR Engine Nothing in the way of the emitted ions. Almost no wear and tear like other engine designs. Notice the “nozzle” for this engine is the magnetic field lines..VERY cool!!

32 ISP Curve Images from

33 Rocket engine design In General, High Isp is low thrust,
Low ISP can have high thrust. Currently, low Isp high thrust engines get us into orbit. Ideally a high ISP low thrust move us around.

34 Comparison

35 Thrust to mass ratio So to make the best rocket you need to look at the economics. A highly efficient engine may just weigh too much. So a lower efficient engine may be better. Example: A typical Ion engine of thrust on 0.1 N has no chance of lifting itself from the surface of the earth so no point using it. But in space it can easily be used to increase its speed.

36 “Famous” Rockets Saturn 5 1st stage Lox/Ker Other stages Lox/LH

37 Space Shuttle 1st stage/2nd stage Solid rocket Lox/LH “3rd stage”
Hydrazine.. NASTY stuff but VERY reliable

38 Soyuz All 3 stages Lox/Ker

39 “Space Ship one” One the $10 million dollar X-prize. 1st stage

40 Falcon 1 1st and 2nd stages Lox/Ker

41 Falcon 9

42 Dawn Spacecraft Ion Engine 385 kg of Xenon For many YEARS of firing

43 Tie Fighter Twin Ion Engine

44 Warp Drive and Impulse Engines
Enterprise Warp Drive and Impulse Engines

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