AAE 33900: Aerospace Propulsion

Credits:     3

Contact hours:     Lecture that meets 3 times per week for 50 minutes per meeting for 15 weeks.

Instructor:     Professor Li Qiao and Professor William Anderson

Text:     Hill and Peterson, Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion, Addison Wesley, 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0201146592. Supplemental notes furnished by instructor.

Course Description:     The course is intended to provide an introduction and broad survey of airbreathing and rocket propulsion systems. Students are given a review of the first and second laws of thermodynamics; control volume analysis and conservation equations of mass, momentum, and energy; the Brayton cycle; and derivation and application of the rocket equation. Students are provided a basic background in one-dimensional compressible internal flows; cycle and performance analysis of ramjets, turbojets, and turbofans; propellers; and reacting flows and chemical equilibrium. Students are introduced to the main components of gas turbine engines and rockets, including inlets, turbomachinery, thrust chambers, and nozzles.

Offered:    Spring

Pre-requisite:    ME 20000

Co-requisite:    AAE 33400

Required:    Yes

Student Learning Outcomes:
On completing this course the student shall be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts.
  2. Apply their understanding to propulsion system performance and top-level sizing calculations including thrust; turbine engine flows, components, and efficiencies; velocity triangles; space applications and rocket design; engine cycles and components; solid rocket motors.
  3. Calculate performance of propulsion systems.
  4. Perform top-level sizing calculations.
  5. Select appropriate propulsion systems for a given application.

Relationship of Course to Program Outcomes

    Program Learning Outcomes Included?
a An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering Yes
b An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data No
c An ability to design an aerospace system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health, and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability Yes
d An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams No
e An ability to identify, formulate, and solve aerospace engineering problems Yes
f An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility No
g An ability to communicate effectively Yes
h An understanding of the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context Yes
i A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning Yes
j A knowledge of contemporary issues in aerospace engineering Yes
k An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for aerospace engineering practice Yes


  1. Introduction: Brief history of gas turbine and rocket propulsion development; Classification of aerospace propulsion systems; Overview of rocket and airbreathing engine configurations (2 lectures)
  2. Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Fluid Flow: Control volumes and thrust equation; First and second laws of thermodynamics, gas properties; fundamental energy balances; Chemical reactions and equilibrium; heat transfer (6 lectures)
  3. One-Dimensional Flow: 1-D compressible isentropic flow; Non-isentropic flow (3 lectures)
  4. Airbreathing Engines: Turbine engines and ramjets; propellers; Thermodynamics, performance, and efficiencies; the range equation (4 lectures)
  5. Inlets, Combustors, and Nozzles (3 lectures)
  6. Compressors and Turbines: Euler momentum equation, basic concepts; velocity triangles; Axial compressor and turbine on-design analysis; dimensional analysis and performance maps (6 lectures)
  7. Rockets: Rocket types and performance parameters; The rocket equation; Staging; Space and launch missions (3 lectures)
  8. Liquid Rocket Engines: Cycles; propellants; and thrust chambers (4 lectures)
  9. Rocket Combustion and Expansion: thermochemical calculations; nozzle flows (4 lectures)
  10. Solid rocket motors: Parts; St Robert’s Law; lumped parameter ballistic analysis; homogenous and heterogeneous propellants (3 lectures)
  11. Electric Propulsion: main types; applications (3 lectures)

Revision History:
Prepared by: William Anderson, Date: June 1, 2015