Upcoming events

Spaceport America Cup

20 - 26 June 2022

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EuRoC 2021

«Making a rocket is a lot of hard work. Before going to Portugal we had made a large effort to be as ready as possible.

 

Unsurprisingly we were still not ready. Leading up to departure we had performed complete assembly of the rocket something like three times, but we still hadn’t resolved every issue that had popped up during assembly...»

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Rocket engines

What's the big deal?

The purpose of a rocket is to deliver a payload to its destination somewhere off the ground - be it fireworks, an atmospheric experiment, a satellite or even humans. The rocket must be as powerful and fast as gravity and aerodynamic forces are relentless, and as reliable as the payload is valuable. The rocket goes nowhere without an engine. The science behind rocket engines is the very heart of rocket science itself!

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Rocket engines 101

The main categories of rocket engines are liquid, solid and hybrid engines. Each of them have their advantages and drawbacks.

 

Solid rocket motors are what you find in fireworks, or as “booster” stages for the Space Shuttle or SLS - they are the white cylinders you can see strapped to the sides. The propellant is designed to only need a bit of sparks and you’ll be on your way. There’s no off- switch, you better make sure you’re aiming in the right direction before igniting it!

Liquid engines are the main engines of most larger rockets, such as the Space Shuttle, Soyuz/Proton or Falcon 9. They mix two liquid or gaseous propellants in a burn chamber in order to produce thrust, which makes for some interesting challenges with plumbing and flow control.