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Preliminary Studies of a Pulsed Detonation Rocket EngineIn the new era of space exploration, there is a strong need for more efficient, cheaper and more reliable propulsion devices. With dramatic increase in specific impulse, the overall mass of fuel to be lifted into orbit is decreased, and this leads, in turn, to much lower mass requirements at lift-off, higher payload ratios and lower launch costs. The Pulsed Detonation engine (PDE) has received much attention lately due to its unique combination of simplicity, light-weight and efficiency. Current investigations focus principally on its use as a low speed, airbreathing engine, although other applications have also been proposed. Its use as a rocket propulsion device was first proposed in 1988 by the present authors. The superior efficiency of the Pulsed Detonation Rocket Engine (PDRE) is due to the near constant volume combustion process of a detonation wave. Our preliminary estimates suggest that the PDRE is theoretically capable of achieving specific impulses as high as 720 sec, a dramatic improvement over the current 480 sec of conventional rocket engines, making it competitive with nuclear thermal rockets. In addition to this remarkable efficiency, the PDRE may eliminate the need for high pressure cryogenic turbopumps, a principal source of failures. The heat transfer rates are also much lower, eliminating the need for nozzle cooling. Overall, the engine is more reliable and has a much lower weight. This paper will describe in detail the operation of the PDRE and calculate its performance, through numerical simulations. Engineering issues will be addressed and discussed, and the impact on mission profiles will also be presented. Finally, the performance of the PDRE using in-situ resources, such as CO and O2 from the martian atmosphere, will also be computed.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Cambier, Jean-Luc
(Eloret Corp. Moffett Field, CA United States)
Adelman, H. G.
(Rekenthaler Technology Associates Corp. Woodbine, MD United States)
Menees, G. P.
(Rekenthaler Technology Associates Corp. Woodbine, MD United States)
Edwards, Thomas A.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1995
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Meeting Information
Meeting: 31st AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference
Location: San Diego, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: July 10, 1995
End Date: July 12, 1995
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Funding Number(s)
PROJECT: RTOP 307-50-42
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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