Medicine, Science & Technology

Space Propulsion: a Survey Study About Current and Future Technologies

doi:.8jatm.v.89 xxxx review article pace ropulsion: a urvey tudy About Current and Future echnologies aria Cristina Vilela algado,, ischel Carmen eyra elderrain, essaleno Campos evezas 3 how to cite algado
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doi:.8jatm.v.89 xxxx review article pace ropulsion: a urvey tudy About Current and Future echnologies aria Cristina Vilela algado,, ischel Carmen eyra elderrain, essaleno Campos evezas 3 how to cite algado CV elderrain C evezas C algado CV; elderrain C; evezas C (8) pace propulsion: a survey study about actual and future technologies J Aerosp ecnol anag, : e8. doi:.8jatm.v.89. asrac: Current pace aunch Vehicles use chemical reactions (solid and liquid propellants) to achieve sufficient thrust to launch artifacts and humans into space. ropulsion technologies can be framed in three different categories: escape propulsion, in-space propulsion, and deep space propulsion. he launch vehicles currently used for escape propulsion rely on mature technologies, which experienced only small incremental improvements over the last five decades, and breakthroughs for this kind of propulsion are not foreseen for the next two decades. his research gathered information on the main operational heavy-lift space launch vehicles with capacity over, kg that are used to reach G (Geostationary arth rbit) by the nited tates, ussia, urope, China, Japan and India and compared their thrust capability. he results show that performance was improved mainly by adding boosters, increasing gross propellant weight, with larger diameter rocket motors and using more efficient liquid propellant pairs. Information regarding the frequency of published scientific articles and patents on pace Vehicles ropulsion ystems since the 96s was also gathered, which demonstrates some progress in the last years, mainly in A and urope. In-space and eep space spacecraft were also brief ly examined in this article, resuming the main features of some new promising developments, mainly regarding the latter, which present prospects of significant technological advances; however, real progress in interplanetary missions will be possible only when technological breakthroughs towards other propulsion types become possible and feasible. o, two questions motivated the authors: why space propulsion development seems stagnant? Are there prospects for progress? YWors: pace propulsion technology, pace vehicles, iquid propellants, olid propellants, eep space propulsion, ocket engines. inroucion pace flight is undoubtedly a remarkable and probably the most audacious human achievement of the th century. It started suddenly in the 9s and grew explosively in the two following decades. uring a period of more than fifty years of space flights, many things have changed. he pace huttle is a luxury ship compared to the ercury capsules that carried the first American astronauts into space. oday there are few thousand satellites in orbit that form the backbone of arth communications system; space probes have visited every planet of the solar system, as well as some asteroids and comets, and some were even sent outside the solar system. owever, there is one thing that has not changed much: the way that rockets work, or, in other words, rocket propulsion, which is still chemical-based, like its predecessors that have put the putniks and xplorers into orbit in the late 9s. While different fuels have been used, and current rocket engines are more technologically advanced than their early predecessors, the basic concepts involved are basically the same..epartamento de Ciência e ecnologia Aeroespacial Instituto ecnológico de Aeronáutica rograma de ós-graduação em ngenharia Aeronáutica e ecânica ão José dos Campos razil..epartamento de Ciência e ecnologia Aeroespacial Instituto de Aeronáutica e spaço ubcoordenadoria de bservação ecnológica ão José dos Campos razil. 3.niversity igher Institution Atlântica chool of Industry and usiness Center for Aerospace cience and echnologies isboa ortugal. Correspondence author: aria Cristina Vilela algado epartamento de Ciência e ecnologia Aeroespacial Instituto de Aeronáutica e spaço ubcoordenadoria de bservação ecnológica raça al. duardo Gomes, Vila das Acácias C:.8-9 ão José dos Campos razil mail: received: ov., 6 accepted: Jun., 7 section editor: Ana orais J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 3 xxxx algado CV, elderrain C, evezas C he propulsion system of a rocket includes all the parts that make up the rocket engine: tanks, pumps, propellants, power head, and rocket nozzles. he function of the propulsion system is to produce thrust, which is the force that moves a rocket through air and space. ifferent propulsion systems generate thrust in different ways, but always through some application of ewton s third law of motion. In any propulsion system, a working fluid is accelerated and the reaction to this acceleration produces a force on the system. A general derivation of the thrust equation shows that the amount of thrust generated depends on the mass flow through the engine and the exit velocity of the gas. pace propulsion technologies can be framed in three different categories: escape propulsion (from arth surface to orbit), in-space propulsion (in orbit), and deep space propulsion (from orbit to outer space). he launch vehicles currently used for escape propulsion rely on very mature technologies, but for in-space and deep space vehicles, there are prospects of significant technological advances. According to ong (), chemical fuels are clearly inadequate for interstellar missions and new methods of propelling a vehicle through space should be invented. he uroconsult eport (6) informs that global spending on space programs in has reached $66, billion. he report also presents the prospects of a new growth cycle in government space spending, which is expected to start soon and average.% over the next eight years worldwide, reaching $8. billion by. pace program development has been on the rise during the past decade in an increasing number of countries, aiming to acquire independent assets to help their national, social, economic and technological development and contribute to their national defense and security programs. pace access budgets continued to increase over the past years at a % Compound Annual Growth ate (CAG). Currently, the major difficulties of operating unmanned space missions are related to energy and propellant required for launch, transfer orbit, and maneuvering the satellite or spacecraft in orbit. ngoing studies indicate that the area of greatest challenge has been identified to be propulsion. he main engines require improvement if reliability and cost goals are ever to be met. Johnson () explains that there is no single propulsion technology that will benefit all missions or mission types. evezas et al. () presented the worldwide space activities scenario during the last eighty years under the framework of the succeeding -waves (ondratieff waves), scrutinizing more than 7, space activity related events that occurred in the period 93-. he authors showed that the intensity of these activities in the examined period evidenced a wave-like aspect, which matches very well the unfolding of the past th -wave, and that there are signals that a new wave of space activities is under way following the path of the coming th k-wave. hey also demonstrated that the space race that we have witnessed until now followed a natural growth process that reached a saturation point at the dawn of this century, and suggested that a new growth process in this field might be sprouting, with traits very different from the ones imagined by futurists and science fiction writers sixty years ago. he projection of future of space programs from countries like the nited tates, ussia, urope, China, Japan, India, outh orea, Iran and others, includes manned missions to secure a foothold on the oon, reaching and intercepting asteroids that might threaten our planet, landing humans on ars, accomplishing missions to Jupiter and other interplanetary travels in the period between and 3, corresponding to the unfolding of the th -wave. ndertaking such missions requires developing new space propulsion rocket engine systems. pace launch vehicles must be capable of reaching transfer orbits and detach from their spacecrafts, which, driven by new propulsion systems with high energy levels, will continue until the final destination. he research presented in this article was motivated by the search for answer to this critical question: are there available propulsion technologies ready to be used andor to be developed on such short time span? odern literature of space technology often distinguishes the spacecraft propulsion according to the region of space foreseen for their movement, and more frequently, we find the following terms that represent these space regions, such as In-pace, eep pace and uter pace. here is no clear consensus about a name to designate propulsion in the region under the influence of arth gravity located between the arth surface and orbit, and for this reason the term scape ropulsion was adopted by the authors for lack of a better alternative in the literature. ecently, Johnson () noted that in-space propulsion begins where the launch vehicle upper stage leaves off and starts performing the functions of primary propulsion, reaction control, station keeping, precision pointing, and orbital maneuvering. Figure shows the definition of this space region. he term escape propulsion was adopted to describe the space between arth J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 pace ropulsion: a urvey tudy About Current and Future echnologies 33 xxxx surface and arth orbit, and all propulsion technologies required by space missions when the space vehicle leaves the launch pad. he region beyond arth gravitational influence, until the Geostationary arth rbit (G) at km above arth surface, is defined as in-space, as shown in Fig.. In-space harbors all arth monitoring systems, such as strategic communications assets, early warning, arth observation, navigation, reconnaissance, surveillance and weather. After in-space, or beyond G, in outer space, lies deep space, encompassing interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic space. he Inner olar ystem contains the un and the inner planets ercury, Venus, arth, ars, and the asteroid belt. he uter olar ystem, which surrounds the Inner olar ystem, contains the outer planets: Jupiter, aturn, ranus, eptune and luto. istance (km) pace vents bservation scape arth ropulsion nd of stratosphere 6 eginning of ow arth rbit 6 International pace tation International pace tation at an orbital altitude between 33 and km. In-space nd of ow arth rbit beginning of edium arth rbit. G satellites nd of edium arth rbit beginning of Geoestationary arth rbit Communications satelittes 38. oon.. agrangian point arth un 38.. Venus.7. ars Curiosity rover landed on ars (August ) ercury 9.6. un eep-space Jupiter... aturn.8.. ranus.8.. luto.3.. eptune... uter solar system.6.. ermination shock Wind of electrically charged particles becomes denser, hotter and slower... nd of eliosphere Figure. oundaries of space regions. arking lot where gravitational effects of un and arth balance out his article describes the status of the technology for escape propulsion with solid, liquid, and green propellants, as well as hybrid propulsion, and for in-space and deep space propulsion with plasma propulsion and without propellants. It also tries to forecast the future development of propulsion technologies, identifying some futuristic projects such as roject rion, aedalus, ight ail, pace levator, and VAI, indicating that the field of propulsion has many surprises to reveal us in the next 3 years for space exploration and interplanetary travel. his prospective study shows that advanced space programs are already planned for the near future (3), including missions to the oon, ars, Jupiter, and beyond, which will need to use new space propulsion technologies. Figure shows the comparation between the technologies used in each region of space. J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 3 xxxx algado CV, elderrain C, evezas C ropulsion technologies Chemical propulsion on-chemical propulsion Advanced propulsion technology ( 3) upporting technologies olid lasma (lectric or ionic propulsion) uclear propulsion ropellant storable iquid ybrid olar sail propulsion aser propulsion In-space plataform to transfer propellant Green propellants ether propulsion Fusion propulsion scape propulsion In-space propulsion ropellantless Aerocapture eep space propulsion olar electric propulsion () Figure. echnology area breakdown structure (adapted from eyer et al. ). scape ropulsion According to Caisso et al. (9), in 898, a ussian schoolteacher, onstantin siolkovsky (87-93) proposed the idea of space exploration using rockets. In 93, siolkovsky suggested the use of liquid propellants for rockets in order to acquire the necessary thrust. In the early th century, the American engineer obert. Goddard (88-9) conducted practical experiments with solid-propellant rockets. o one had ever built a successful liquid propellant rocket, as it was a much more difficult task than building solid propellant rockets: fuel and oxygen tanks, pumps, turbines and combustion chambers would be needed. Goddard achieved the first successful flight with a liquid propellant rocket on arch 6, 96 (aeseler et al. ). In the 93s, the German engineer Wernher von raun (9-977) was responsible for the design of the V ballistic missiles; however, von raun was a researcher interested in manned space travel. e defended his h in 93 and the title of his thesis was Construction, heoretical, and xperimental olution to the roblem of the iquid ropellant ocket. After WWII, under the then secret peration aperclip, von raun and some select members of his rocket team were taken to the nited tates to work in the.. pace rogram. he landing on the oon in 969 became possible through their efforts. ntil nowadays, the propulsion types used in launch vehicles to operate the escape propulsion region are variations of the chemical propulsion. ocket engines use mainly liquid propellants because of their higher efficiency and thrust. ocket engines also use solid propellants, mainly in boosters, to improve thrust at takeoff and because, although less efficient, they have greater reliability, robustness and J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 pace ropulsion: a urvey tudy About Current and Future echnologies 3 xxxx power, thus improving safety. he propulsion of rocket engines for launch vehicles takeoff from terrestrial platforms, ships or aircrafts, seems so far to be an established technology, with echnology eadiness evel () 9, as pointed out by Johnson (). echnological advances in propulsion are steadily reducing costs and improving efficiency, reliability and safety, in order to keep up with satellite demand and maintain the competitiveness in space. Constant environmental concerns result to an increasing need for non-toxic propellants that do not harm life on the ground or in the atmosphere. Chemical propulsion olid fuel propulsion In a solid rocket fuel grain, all the components required for vigorous combustion are mixed together and packed into a solid cylinder, as shown in Fig. 3, into one substance. nce the combustion starts, it proceeds until all the propellant is exhausted. here will be an oxidizer (usually a salt such as ammonium perchlorate or potassium nitrate), a fuel ( ydroxyl erminated olybutadiene) or some other solid hydrocarbon and an accelerant (sulphur, powdered aluminium, or other easily oxidized metal). When lit, the fuel grain will burn energetically, releasing a large volume of hot gases that are used to provide thrust (A ). hrust termination Igniter otor case Internal insulation hrust vector control ropellant grain ozzle throat hrust vector actuator ozzle exit cone Figure 3. olid rocket engine (A ). he more sophisticated solid rockets are used as launch boosters on various vehicles including the retired pace huttle, elta IV, Atlas V, Ariane, and in intercontinental ballistic missiles. pecific impulses from solid rockets are not as high as liquid fueled rockets, but ease of use, short preparation time, and relative simplicity of construction make them the rocket of choice for the widest variety of applications. olid rockets are much easier to handle and can stay idle for years before firing. Casting the fuel grain port in different configurations, as shown in Fig., can yield different burn characteristics. tar configurations tend to be popular for a relatively even burn. Figure. Grain fuel configurations (A ). he mixing and preparation of large fuel grains is difficult, highly technical, and dangerous. A solid rocket fuel is, by definition, an explosive. For optimum performance and reliability, the fuel grain mixture must be composed of very fine particles very evenly mixed. uring the mixing and casting process, the mixtures are very unstable and dangerous. assive explosions have occurred J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 63 xxxx algado CV, elderrain C, evezas C during manufacture of solid rocket fuel grains. he biggest drawback of solid rockets for manned use is that they cannot be controlled or switched off once they are lit. Aborts are impossible after ignition (A ). iquid fuel propulsion ropellant is comprised of two composites: fuel and oxidizer, as shown in Fig.. hey are stored separately in tanks in liquid phase and are pumped into the nozzle combustion chamber where burning occurs. ngine can stop the combustion and the thrust by turning off propellant flow. iquid rockets tend to be heavier and more complex because of the pumps and storage tanks. ayload umps and valves Fuel xygen Combustion chamber Figure. raft of liquid propulsion rocket (A b). ybrid propulsion As the name implies, hybrids are a cross between other types of rocket motor, in particular, liquid fueled rockets and solid fuel rockets. hey were conceived to overcome the complexities of liquid bi-propellant engines and the lack of controllability of solid rocket motors (Fig. 6). xidizer tank Valve Igniter ozzle Fuel grain Injector Figure 6. ybrid engine (credit to Jonny yer to A ). ne of the substances is solid, usually the fuel, while the gaseous propellant, stored in the oxidizer tank, as shown in Fig. 6, is injected into the solid. he oxidizer is admitted through a small orifice (injector) at the input end, an igniter (pyrotechnic or electrical) is used to start the burn, and the oxidizer consumes the surface of the fuel grain. he basic idea is to inject a liquid oxidizer into a fuel grain that consists only of fuel, and that cannot sustain combustion on its own. he motor is controlled (throttled up and down or shut off) by controlling the flow of liquid oxidizer into the combustion chamber. ypically, the combustion chamber is a long cylinder lined with a fuel composed of hydrocarbons (, kerosene, plastics of various types, amongst many other possibilities). he main advantage of these engines is that their performance is high, similar to that of solid propellant, and combustion can be moderated, stopped, or even restarted, similar to liquid propellant. owever, it is difficult to achieve very large thrusts, and thus, hybrid propellant engines are rarely built. J. Aerosp. echnol. anag., ão José dos Campos, v, e8, 8 pace ropulsion: a urvey tudy About Current and Future echnologies 73 xxxx Green propellants According to Gohardani et al. (), currently, toxic and carcinogenic hydrazine propellants are commonly used in spacecraft propulsion. hese propellants impose distinctive environmental challenges and consequential hazardous conditions. Green ropellants is a general name for a family of propellants, being used in liquid, solid, hybrid, mono or bipropellant engines, which satisfy certain requirements such as low toxicity, low pollution, good storability, wide material compatibility and good performance (aeseler et al. ). he main expectations of green propellants (cost, complexity and environment
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