Research Assessment 3

The second article addressed the feasibility of reusable rockets and how long it would theoretically take to make a profit, ultimately finding that after about 6 launches, reusable rockets would become more profitable than a cheaper one-time use alternative.

This article really furthered my belief that reusable rockets are the future spacecrafts. The amount of money saved by being able to reuse even a part of a rocket is immense, but recovery costs and safety concerns also pose a threat. Ultimately, for me, this article really shined a light on the advancements in technology, giving me hope that aerospace engineering, specifically astronautical engineering has a lot to offer, with plenty of new territory that needs to be discovered. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has really opened doors to engineers and is one of the biggest breakthroughs in technology and in many ways really developed my passion for aerospace. As I was reading the article, I realized that the resources saved would benefit the environment by not needing immense amounts of supplies to essentially make an aircraft for just one flight or mission. Decreasing the costs of space travel could lead to the possibility of space tourism, but more importantly, increased governmental funding for NASA because currently private companies have more funding; therefore, they are at the forefront of new technology. These saved funds could also be used to increase focus on creating spacecrafts that can travel greater distances in space and return back to Earth. More than anything, reading this article made me hopeful and excited about the future and the drastic technological advances I can be a part of.

The first article introduced a small research company based in Florida, Rocket Crafters, and their foray into the technology of hybrid fuel sources for rockets (combination of solid and liquid fuel).

Last week, I read an article about the possibility of electrically powered aircrafts. This made me really interested in new fuel sources, so this week I decided to look into other research companies focused on expanding the currently used materials and resources and came across Rocket Crafters.

The idea of combining solid and liquid fuel (hybrid rocket propellant fuel) is not necessarily a new idea; it just is not used often in practice. This research was very interesting to me and I looked into hybrid fuel a bit more on my own after reading the article. The article would highlight the advantages of hybrid fuel, but downplayed any disadvantageous. So as I was reading, I thought: Why isn’t hybrid fuel commonly used if it has all of these benefits? Turns out the issue is mostly in reliability. Compared to other liquid propulsion systems, hybrid propellant fuel can cause challenges. Refueling a hybrid rocket would be difficult because it is not as easy as simply pumping solid fuel into the fuel tank. Additionally, turbopumps also complicate Rocket Crafter’s proposal. Turbopumps basically produce high-pressure fluid that feeds the combustion chamber. In large hybrid orbital rockets, turbopumps are necessary to achieve high flow rates and pressurization of the oxidizer, but the issue is that the turbopump, then, must be fueled by something and in usual liquid propellant systems, the liquid rocket fuel fuels both the rocket and the turbopump. Although research led me to find these flaws in hybrid rocket fuel, there seems to be a lot of hope for Rocket Crafters. They were recently awarded a large DARPA grant. Clearly, they are onto something since they also patented their hybrid fuel. This also has me very excited and intrigued. I have a tendency to lean towards research in fuel sources for aircrafts when I look into aeronautical engineering. I want to research more into other companies like Rocket Crafter’s that are in Texas, but I think I should still follow updates from this new company.

This past week caused me to realize my love for astronautical engineering and research based startups. When it comes to aeronautics, I am very passionate about improving the current resources used in order to increase efficiency and create something completely new, rather than work on the currently accepted procedures and resources found in the aerospace industry.

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