Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Static ground testing of rocket motors is used to gather performance data and troubleshoot the propulsion system, allowing propulsion engineers to compare actual characteristics to the designed parameters. It is also used in the development and validation of new propulsion systems and alterations to the fuel and oxidizer mixtures. Test benches are used to continuously collect data throughout the burn of a rocket motor, which allows engineers to plot the thrust as a function of time. This plot, a thrust curve, displays several important pieces of information about a rocket motor. This information is crucial to allow astronautical engineers to make flight plans and calculate course corrections for satellites and other space vehicles. On a smaller scale, hobbyists use thrust curves published by motor manufacturers to predict the altitude that their rockets will fly, the velocity they will reach, and how much acceleration the rocket will be subject to. In these cases, static-fire motor test benches are used by the manufacturer and the National Fire Protection Association to record thrust curve data and validate motors. Hobbyist rocketeers are allowed to design and build their own rocket motors. However, these are not common in High Power Rocketry due to the inability to predict the performance of the rocket on an untested motor.
For this project, the team designed, built, and tested a static motor test bench for high-power rocket motors. The test bench successfully withstood the forces of one of the most powerful solid rocket motors commercially available to collegiate level rocketry teams. The bench successfully collected data of three commercially available solid rocket motors at varying levels of thrust, impulse, and burn time; validating its versatility. This test bench will be used to test a liquid-fueled rocket motor that was designed by a team at Grand Valley State University. In the future, the test bench will facilitate the development and testing of rocket motors at Western Michigan University.
Wine, Jonathan, "High Power Rocket Motor Test Bench" (2023). Honors Theses. 3685.
Honors Thesis-Open Access