Design of a 500 lbf liquid oxygen and liquid methane rocket engine for suborbital flight

Jesus Eduardo Trillo, University of Texas at El Paso


Liquid methane (LCH4)is the most promising rocket fuel for our journey to Mars and other space entities. Compared to liquid hydrogen, the most common cryogenic fuel used today, methane is denser and can be stored at a more manageable temperature; leading to more affordable tanks and a lighter system. The most important advantage is it can be produced from local sources using in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology. This will allow the production of the fuel needed to come back to earth on the surface of Mars, or the space entity being explored, making the overall mission more cost effective by enabling larger usable mass. The major disadvantage methane has over hydrogen is it provides a lower specific impulse, or lower rocket performance.^ The UTEP Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (cSETR) in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been the leading research center for the advancement of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Liquid Methane (LCH4) propulsion technologies. Through this partnership, the CROME engine, a throattable 500 lbf LOX/LCH4 rocket engine, was designed and developed. The engine will serve as the main propulsion system for Daedalus, a suborbital demonstration vehicle being developed by the cSETR. The purpose of Daedalus mission and the engine is to fire in space under microgravity conditions to demonstrate its restartability. This thesis details the design process, decisions, and characteristics of the engine to serve as a complete design guide.^

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering|Mechanical engineering

Recommended Citation

Trillo, Jesus Eduardo, "Design of a 500 lbf liquid oxygen and liquid methane rocket engine for suborbital flight" (2016). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10250844.