Rocket engines

Ofodike A. Ezekoye

J.T. MacGuire Professor
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 78712

The human desire for exploration has led humans to become a space-faring species. Much of propulsion on earth relies on the use of oxygen in the atmosphere as the oxidant in combustion reactions. This is obviously unavailable in space propulsion. As such, rocket engines which are used for space exploration have typically used a fuel that already contains an oxidant. Rocket engines can either burn liquid fuels or solid fuels. For cases in which the oxidant and reductant are initially unmixed, the oxidant is sometimes cryogenic oxygen. To offset the requirement to carry its own oxidant, it is desirable for a rocket fuel to use high energy density materials. While hydrocarbons are sometimes used, other chemicals are also used.

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