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  • Development of liquid-propellant rocket engine engineering and its influence on science and technology in USSR

    Paper ID



    • V.P. Glushko







    In his classical work published in 1903, K.E. Tsiolkovsky laid down the foundations of Rocket Dynamics and described the rocket as a means for space flights. His concept of a liquid-propellant rocket engine became the basis of the developments accomplished by his followers. His ideas about propellant selection and some specific features of such an engine proved to be prophetic. We should remember that K.E. Tsiolkovsky proposed oxygen—hydrocarbon and oxygen- hydrogen propellant, regenerative cooling of the combustion chamber and nozzle of the engine by propellant components, ceramic insulation of these construction elements, separate storage of propellant components and pumping them into the chamber mixing head for subsequent burning, thrust-vector control by turning the rear end of the nozzle and by gas vanes. He has shown the extreme importance of engine exhaust velocity and methods of augmentation. To convert these remarkable basic ideas into actual liquid-propellant rocket engines quite a number of complicated problems had to be worked out on the rough road to the realization of such an engine. This road was taken first in the USA when in 1921 R. Goddard started test-firing of these engines, then in 1929-31 in Germany, the USSR, France, Italy and other countries. In the USSR the first Gas-Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) under the military authorities, according to the author’s proposal, a department for electric and liquid-propellant rocket engines development was organized and started its activities on 15 May 1929. The first problem to be solved was the development of methods and equipment for bench hot test measurements of engine characteristics. At the same time engine analysis technique was being developed. The optimum propellant selection defined the engine and rocket core, and their main operating characteristics. Success of the development depends on luck in this selection.