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A Historical Systems Study of Liquid Rocket Engine Throttling CapabilitiesThis is a comprehensive systems study to examine and evaluate throttling capabilities of liquid rocket engines. The focus of this study is on engine components, and how the interactions of these components are considered for throttling applications. First, an assessment of space mission requirements is performed to determine what applications require engine throttling. A background on liquid rocket engine throttling is provided, along with the basic equations that are used to predict performance. Three engines are discussed that have successfully demonstrated throttling. Next, the engine system is broken down into components to discuss special considerations that need to be made for engine throttling. This study focuses on liquid rocket engines that have demonstrated operational capability on American space launch vehicles, starting with the Apollo vehicle engines and ending with current technology demonstrations. Both deep throttling and shallow throttling engines are discussed. Boost and sustainer engines have demonstrated throttling from 17% to 100% thrust, while upper stage and lunar lander engines have demonstrated throttling in excess of 10% to 100% thrust. The key difficulty in throttling liquid rocket engines is maintaining an adequate pressure drop across the injector, which is necessary to provide propellant atomization and mixing. For the combustion chamber, cooling can be an issue at low thrust levels. For turbomachinery, the primary considerations are to avoid cavitation, stall, surge, and to consider bearing leakage flows, rotordynamics, and structural dynamics. For valves, it is necessary to design valves and actuators that can achieve accurate flow control at all thrust levels. It is also important to assess the amount of nozzle flow separation that can be tolerated at low thrust levels for ground testing.
Document ID
20100033271
Document Type
Conference Paper
Authors
Betts, Erin M. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Frederick, Robert A., Jr. (Alabama Univ. Huntsville, AL, United States)
Date Acquired
August 25, 2013
Publication Date
July 25, 2010
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Report/Patent Number
M10-0863
Meeting Information
AIAA, JPC 2010(Nashville, TN)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Public Use Permitted.

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