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SPST310 - Rocket Propulsion

Course Details

Course Code: SPST310 Course ID: 4832 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Undergraduate

This is a survey course of rocket propulsion that covers the history of rockets, the basic science of rocket propulsion including Newton’s Third Law, basic fluid mechanics, the ideal rocket equation, nozzle design and impulse, types of rockets including thermodynamic and electrodynamic, and exotic propulsion methods such as solar sails, tethers and the future of antimatter propulsion. As an introductory survey course, the objectives of this class are geared towards gaining a conceptual understanding of these topics and how rocket propulsion works, rather than memorizing a lot of facts.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
11/26/18 - 05/03/19 05/06/19 - 06/30/19 Spring 2019 Session I 8 Week session
12/31/18 - 05/31/19 06/03/19 - 07/28/19 Spring 2019 Session D 8 Week session
03/25/19 - 08/30/19 09/02/19 - 10/27/19 Summer 2019 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Summarize the contributions of early rocket pioneers
  2. Apply Newton's Third Law to the basic principles of rocket propulsion
  3. Compute the propellant mass fraction of a given rocket system
  4. Describe the principles of thermodynamic rockets
  5. Analyze different types of thermodynamic rocket systems and their operating principles
  6. Describe electrodynamic rocket principles
  7. Use operating principles of electrodynamic rocket systems to distinguish structures and operations of electrodynamic rockets
  8. Examine exotic or future rocket technologies

Forums: For each forum, you are required to post your own response to the given topic and to respond to at least two of your classmates. Your main post must be at least 200 words, and your responses must be substantive (not merely “Good post”).

Exams and Quizzes: the quizzes, midterm exam and final exam will be open-book, open-resource. The short-answer questions will require well-researched and detailed answers.

Research paper subject approval: the student will select a topic directly related to rocket propulsion and submit the proposal as a written assignment not later than the end of week 2. The proposal will include the topic, the reason the topic was chosen, and a draft abstract (a concise summary that describes the scope of the paper and identifies the objective or intended results).

Research paper - outline and draft bibliography: no later than the end of week 4, the student will provide the following:

  • a draft outline of the paper, including the major topic areas to be discussed
  • an initial bibliography

Research paper - draft and final bibliography: no later than the end of week 6, the student will submit the following:

  • the first draft of the research paper
  • final bibliography

Research paper - final: not later than the end of the course (week 8), the student will submit the final paper, which must be related to the course subject area. The final paper must not be less than 10 pages in length, not including title page and bibliography/references. There must be a minimum of two published (not web site) references, such as textbooks or papers published in professional journals, and at least five total sources, which may also include magazine or web articles.

Final paper grading: the research paper will be graded on the following criteria:

  • Research: did the student conduct important and relevant research in the area?
  • Analysis: did the student thoroughly analyze and evaluate the data?
  • Conclusions: did the student make original, logical, rational and convincing arguments based on the analysis?
  • Was the paper well-written in a clear, logical style using proper grammar, spelling and punctuation? Was the paper properly formatted and referenced?
NameGrade %
Introduction Forum 0.50 %
Personal Introduction Forum 0.50 %
Forum discussions 20.00 %
Week 1 Forum: Introduction & Rocket Pioneers 2.50 %
Week 2 Forum: Rocket Propulsion Principles 2.50 %
Week 3 Forum: Ideal Rocket Equation 2.50 %
Week 4 Forum: Thermodynamic Expansion 2.50 %
Week 5 Forum: Thermodynamic Rockets 2.50 %
Week 6 Forum: Electric Rockets 2.50 %
Week 7 Forum: Exotic or Future Propulsion 2.50 %
Week 8 Forum: Course Wrap-up 2.50 %
Quizzes 25.00 %
Quiz 1 5.00 %
Quiz 2 5.00 %
Quiz 3 5.00 %
Quiz 4 5.00 %
Quiz 5 5.00 %
Midterm Exam 12.50 %
Midterm Exam 12.50 %
Final Exam 15.00 %
Final Exam 15.00 %
Research Paper - Subject Approval (Week 2) 2.00 %
Research Paper - Subject Approval (Week 2) 2.00 %
Research Paper -- Outline and Draft Bibliography (Week 4) 4.00 %
Research paper - Outline and Draft Bibliography (Week 4) 4.00 %
Research Paper - Draft and Final Bibliography (Week 6) 6.00 %
Research paper - Draft and Final Bibliography (Week 6) 6.00 %
Research Paper (Week 8) 15.00 %
Research Paper 15.00 %

The e-book will be provided through VitalSource. The following links provide information on the new bookstore process and a demo video:

See the Course Materials in the Sakai classroom Lessons area for further instructions on accessing the eBook.

Websites: Must be government or industry sites; e.g. NASA, NOAA, Boeing, etc.

Book Title:Introduction to Rocket Propulsion - the VitalSource e-book is provided inside the classroom
Publication Info:VS-McGraw-Hill
Unit Cost:$49.83
Electronic ISBN:9781307190274
Electronic Unit Cost:$35.00

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.