Bipropellant rocket engine for a launch vehicle
Group Members
Daniel Antelo Roldán, Felix Harris, Jack Mulligan, Petar Nikolaev Bechev, Nicolas Tarquini, Silvio Zeqaj
Dr. Charles Ryan, Professor Antony Musker
Project Sirius is a response to the UK’s intention to establish a spaceport within the British Isles. It aims to produce a regeneratively cooled 3rd stage bipropellant engine for a theoretical launch vehicle. The fuel and oxidiser used are Turpentine and High-Test Peroxide (HTP). Since the propellants are not hypergolic, upon firing, HTP is injected into a decomposition chamber filled with PX3 catalyst, where it reacts to produce oxygen and steam at 650°C.The oxidiser, prior to decomposition, cools the nozzle and combustion chamber through internal channels within the engine walls, so that this hot oxygen can then combust with the Turpentine, producing up to 1.5kN of thrust.

Fully manufacturing the Propellant Delivery System and engine while verifying each subsystem and completing the first ever experimental firing was the aim of this project. Although the early closure of the University due to COVID-19 prevented final testing at Westcott, significant achievements were made this year. The catalyst decomposition chamber was verified experimentally through the redesign of a small scale prototype. An optimised fuel injector was procured, verified and fitted inside the combustion chamber. A comprehensive LabVIEW system was produced which could control a PDS, fitted with seven independent safety upgrades, during its first ever test. Finally, a substantial manufacturing defect in the internal cooling channels was assessed and treated.

Progress made this year earned Project Sirius a presentation slot at the European Space Propulsion Conference in Portugal. Paraphrasing this project’s founder, should the full GDP period have been allocated, the engine would have completed its maiden monopropellant firing this year.
SIRIUS in assembly

Cutaway render

1   HTP oxidiser injector plate
2   PX3 catalyst decompossition chamber
3   Turpentine fuel injector
4   Regeneratively-cooled Inconel nozzle