Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Launch Vehicle Propulsion

Oct 19, 2020 to Oct 21, 2020
Go to Launch Vehicle Propulsion event

Launch Vehicle Propulsion: An Introduction to Liquid Propellant System Design and Analysis

This introductory short course covers liquid propellant system design and analysis for launch vehicles. Intended for those with an engineering background, the participant is exposed to a fully-developed understanding of the propellant system that they can directly apply for the design, test, and operation of launch vehicles. Attendees will gain an in-depth understanding of liquid propellant dynamic considerations for launch vehicle design.

Due to COVID-19, this training course will be held virtually with a minimal registration fee. To enhance the virtual experience and encourage participant interactions, instruction will be through a live video feed and the course will be limited to 30 applicants.

Course Description

This course is focused on the feed systems of liquid propellant space propulsion systems. Subjects of interest are the propellant tanks, propellant feedlines, pressurization systems, and the interaction of these components with overall vehicle performance. Starting with a basic foundation in liquid propulsion systems, in-depth topics are addressed and reinforced with classroom exercises. The concept of liquid sloshing in propellant tanks is covered along with the analytical, computational, and experimental methods to characterize sloshing parameters for guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) simulations.

Common and advanced concepts of slosh baffling and other mitigation strategies with analysis techniques are discussed. The concept of unusable propellant is introduced along with methods for estimating the maximum fraction of propellant than can be drained from a tank. An introduction is given to propellant feedline dynamics, including start slump, water hammer, and pogo stability. Class exercises for identifying the pogo modal interactions between the vehicle structure and propellant system will include both strategies of avoidance as well as mitigation.

The importance of maintaining adequate pressures in propellant tanks and the analysis techniques to design and model these pressurization systems will be introduced. Cryogenic propellants require a firm understanding of phase change and thermodynamics to minimize propellant boil-off while maintaining tank pressurization and temperature requirements. This complex, multiphase, thermodynamic system is covered in detail with class examples.

Course Overview

This introductory course covers the liquid propellant system design and analysis for launch vehicles. By focusing on the propellant system upstream of the turbopump, the course includes topics of feedline dynamics, pressurization systems, liquid sloshing, propellant management, and propellant system modeling. Practical exercises are used throughout the course to re-enforce the material and virtual facility tours provide exposure to SwRI’s test facilities. Instruction is provided by experienced SwRI staff.

Course Topics

  • Introduction to the engine and propellant system
  • Liquid Propellant Feedline Dynamics
  • Propellant Pressurization Systems
  • Liquid Propellent Management
  • In-Flight Propellant Dynamics and Sloshing


October 19-21, 2020
8:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Day 1: Liquid Propulsion System Cycle Introduction and Review

Rocket Engine Fundamentals
Engine Cycle Review
Engine Cycle Modeling

Day 2: Propellant System Storage and Feedline Interactions

Propellant Pressurization System
Feedline Dynamics and Pogo
Materials Considerations for Propellant System

Day 3: Propellant Liquid Dynamics and Other Topics

Tank Design and Liquid Slosh Dynamics
Liquid Slosh Mitigation
Propellant Management Devices
External Aerodynamics during Ascent and Re-entry
LOX and LH2 Safety for Ground Test and Launch Facilities
Propulsion System Considerations for Mission Requirements


$149 USD per registrant. Includes course instruction, training materials, and participation in classroom exercises.

Registration is open to International Participants

For more information, please contact Grant Musgrove or call +1 210 522 6517.