The conceptual feasibility of direct absorption, solar thermal propulsion is addressed by means of a detailed analysis of the coupled radiation-gasdynamic process. The primary issue concerns the success with which low intensity solar radiation can be coupled into a working fluid. The fluid dynamics are described by a twodimensional Navier-Stokes analysis coupled with a ray-tracing model for the solar absorption and an approximate "thick-thin" model for the reradiation. The absorption physics are included by a detailed spectral model of the absorption. The working fluid is selected as hydrogen with trace amounts of alkali metal vapors to enhance absorption. Results indicate that previous one-dimensional approximations overestimate the potential of solar rockets but that direct absorption combined with regenerative wall cooling appears promising for appropriate sizes and chamber pressures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Fuel Technology
- Mechanical Engineering
- Space and Planetary Science