Chemical Rockets: The Workhorses of SpaceFlight

Ever wondered how rockets defy gravity and soar into space? Chemical rockets are the most common type of propulsion system, making them the workhorses of space exploration. In this blog, we'll delve into the fascinating world of chemical rocket engines and how they power our journey to the stars.

Most space missions rely on chemical rockets for propulsion. They function by harnessing the power of combustion, much like a car engine but much more powerful. Inside the engine, propellants, either liquid or solid, are ignited. This produces a hot, high-pressure gas that explodes from a specially designed nozzle at the bottom

of the rocket. Newton's Third Law of Motion states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. As the gas shoots out forcefully in one direction, the rocket is propelled upward in the opposite direction, achieving liftoff and hurtling into space.

A Soyuz-FG rocket launches from "Gagarin's Start" (Site 1/5), Baikonur Cosmodrome
Picture from Wikipedia

Power Of combustion
Common propellants used in the space industry include:
  • Liquid propellants: These offer the best performance and come in pairs – an oxidizer (like liquid oxygen, LOX) that provides the oxygen needed for combustion, and a fuel (like liquid hydrogen, LH2) that burns with the oxidizer.

  • Solid propellants: Simpler and more reliable, they are a pre-mixed blend of fuel and oxidizer. While less efficient than liquids, they provide a powerful initial thrust for launching rockets.