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The University of Southampton
Courses

SESA6071 Spacecraft Propulsion

Module Overview

This module considers the basic theory and principles of operation of chemical and electric propulsion systems for spacecraft. Both solid and liquid propellant chemical propulsion systems are considered, as is a variety of electric propulsion systems utilising different propellant acceleration mechanisms.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Analyse he design and operational behaviour of various types of spacecraft propulsion systems.
  • Describe types of chemical propulsion systems, and evaluate their use for various different scenarios.
  • Describe types of electric propulsion systems, and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Design an electric propulsion system for a particular scenario, and evaluate the design experimentally.
  • Design a chemical propulsion system for a particular scenario, and evaluate the design
  • Appreciate the different propellant feed system options for both chemical and electric propulsion systems, and their similarities/differences.
  • Evaluate the factors that limit the performance of these different propellant feed systems
  • Evaluate the factors that limit the performance of these different propellant feed systems
  • Appreciate the suitability of a given propulsion system for a particular space application

Syllabus

Introduction: • Overview of spacecraft propulsion; • Mass and energy sources for space engines; • Basic theory of thermal jet/rocket engines Chemical propulsion: • Liquid propellant rocket engines; • Solid propellant rocket engines; • Nuclear rocket engines Electric propulsion: • EP basics and classification; • EP with electromagnetic acceleration; • EP with electrostatic acceleration; • EP subsystem components

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, Workshops and Laboratory demonstration

TypeHours
Lecture34
Independent Study116
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Dan M Goebel. Fundamentals of Electric Propulsion: Ion and Hall Thrusters. 

Sutton & Biblarz. Rocket Propulsion Elements. 

Fortescur, Swinerd and Stark. Spacecraft System Engineering. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 80%
Workshop Report Assessment 20%

Repeat

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Linked modules

Pre-requisites: SESA2024 and SESA3039

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