Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard D. Branam, PhD


To increase the performance of the current US satellite launch capability, new rocket designs must be undertaken. One concept that has been around since the 50s but yet to be utilized on a launch platform is the aerospike, or plug nozzle. The aerospike nozzle concept demonstrates globally better performance compared to a conventional bell nozzle, since the expansion of the jet is not bounded by a wall and therefore can adjust to the environment by changing the outer jet boundary. A dual-expander aerospike nozzle (DEAN) rocket concept would exceed the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology initiative (IHPRPT) phase three goals. This document covers the design of the chamber and nozzle of the DEAN. The validation of the design of the DEAN are based on the model in Numerical Propulsion System Simulation (NPSS TM), added with the nozzle design from Two-Dimensional Kinematics (TDK 04TM). The result is a rocket engine that produces 57,231 lbf (254.5 kN) of thrust at an Isp of 472 s. Additionally, the oxygen wall is made of silicon carbide, with a melting point of 5580 R (3100 K), and has a maximum temperature at the throat of 1625 R (902 K). The hydrogen side is made of copper, with a melting point of 2444 R (1358 K), and has a maximum wall temperature of 1224 R (680 K) at the throat. Based on these result, future investigation into this design is merited since it has the potential to save $19 million in the cost to launch a satellite. NPSS proved to be a powerful tool in the development of rocket engines. TDK, however, was left wanting in the area of aerospike design.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number