S1_4 The microwave-thermal rocket engine

Philip Peterson, Alex Geddes, Ruth Kelliher, Gavin Cox


This paper describes a new design of electrically powered rocket engine. A microwave thermal rocket uses microwave energy to heat a propellant, which expands in the rocket chamber and out of the rocket’s nozzle, the reaction of which pushes the rocket forwards. It is shown that by varying the mass flow rate, the exhaust velocity and thrust can be altered arbitrarily, making the rocket theoretically suitable for both atmospheric and orbital propulsion. A performance comparison is done with existing forms of space propulsion and ideas for further development are given.

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