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Environmental Burdens and the Light-Weighting of Rockets

[+] Author Affiliations
Yuriy Romaniw, Bert Bras

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Paper No. DETC2013-13310, pp. V004T05A043; 9 pages
  • ASME 2013 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 18th Design for Manufacturing and the Life Cycle Conference; 2013 ASME/IEEE International Conference on Mechatronic and Embedded Systems and Applications
  • Portland, Oregon, USA, August 4–7, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5591-1
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


The overarching goal of the research is to determine the relationship between light-weighting and the life cycle environmental burdens of a rocket system. Light-weighting is done by replacing traditionally metal components with carbon fiber reinforced polymer components. This paper documents a preliminary analysis of the environmental burdens of a rocket, considering rockets of different sizes and propellant combinations. The purpose of the analysis is to first determine if such a relationship exists, and second to determine which components of the rocket most significantly influence the life cycle environmental burdens. The analysis found that a small change of about 0.15–0.3% in the structural mass can decrease embodied energy and carbon dioxide of the rocket by about 5.2% and 5.0%, respectively. Furthermore, the overall propellant load of the rocket decreases by 5.7%, while the overall structural mass decreases by 6.4%. Though there are small differences as to the extent to which light-weighting reduces environmental burdens depending on propellant combination, it is shown that there is a general reduction in life cycle environmental burdens when a rocket is light-weighted.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
Topics: Rockets



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