Advanced Rocket Propulsion


Credit Hours:


Learning Objective:

To obtain a working knowledge of the aerothermodynamics of chemical rocket propulsion systems.


AAE 53900, Advanced Rocket Propulsion, presents a graduate-level treatment of topics related to chemical rocket propulsion. Following a brief review of rocket fundamentals, the course provides a detailed discussion on thermochemistry and chemical equilibrium relating these concepts to the structure and operation of standard industry codes like the NASA Chemical Equilibrium with Applications (CEA) code. The next section of the course provides fundamentals of incompressible and compressible flows as applied to key elements of chemical propulsion systems such as propellant feed systems and nozzles. Before providing an in-depth look at solid, liquid, and hybrid propulsion systems, the course provides a review of fundamental heat transfer processes as applied to chemical rockets. The solid and hybrid rocket sections of the course include a review of ballistic models, burning rate theory, and erosive burning among other topics. The liquid rocket section of the course includes discussions on engine cycle analysis and turbopump design. In a typical semester, the course involves about seven homework assignments (including two in-depth homework assignments requiring more analyses and time than a traditional homework), and two exams (a midterm and a final).

Topics Covered:

Generalized internal compressible and incompressible flows. Thermochemistry and heat transfer in rocket applications. Advanced topics in solid rocket motor performance and internal ballistics, hybrid rockets, and thermal-nuclear engines. Liquid rocket engine cycle analysis and turbopump design.


AAE 439 or Undergraduate background in compressible flows and thermodynamics.

Applied / Theory:

25 / 75


Will be assigned and graded. To be emailed to TA assigned to course.


Not required.


  • A two-hour evening midterm is scheduled for March 9 from 8 to 10pm in WALC 1055.
  • The final exam will be given during the university allocated time period.


Sutton G. P. and Biblarz, O. Rocket Propulsion Elements, 7th, 8th or 9th Edition, Wiley & Sons, 2001/2011/2017. [Optional]

Heister S. D., Anderson W. E., Pourpoint T. L., Cassady R. J., Rocket Propulsion, Cambridge University Press (ISBN: 9781108381376). [Optional]

Computer Requirements:

ProEd minimum computer requirements; an ability to solve engineering problems on the computer is essential; Fortran, Matlab, C, or equivalent skills are required.

Other Requirements:


ProEd Minimum Requirements: