I'm a controls guy and I would like to "emulate" a given rocket engine's response behavior to different thrust signals inside a computer simulation. Thus I'm looking for a book that explains well the different equations that govern a rocket engine's response as a function of propellant, nozzle shape, configuration, etc. You can see that this does not concern the deep fluid dynamics and thermodynamics of it all... I'm just looking for the "high level dynamics" if you see what I mean. Does such a book or resource exist? Thanks a lot for your help!


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Rocket Propulsion Elements by Sutton is a good general reference. Chapter 7, Liquid Propellant Rocket Fundamentals, contains the basic equations that should get you started. Figure 7-7 is particularly good, showing a schematic gas generator engine with the equations that govern the performance of each component. You could probably gen up a decent simulation just starting from this diagram and learning about the equations it contains. enter image description here enter image description here

(All my references are to my nearly worn out 1976 printing of the 4th edition)

I also have the 1984 Oates "Aerothermodynamics of Gas Turbine and Rocket Propulsion" and it's quite good but more difficult. Oates had useful information about computing gas temps in the combustion chamber (it is an iterative relationship).

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    $\begingroup$ Sutton might be a little heavier than OP wants, but it's certainly thorough. 7th edition is available in free PDF if you don't want to shell out for 8th. ewp.rpi.edu/hartford/~ernesto/S2013/EP/MaterialsforStudents/Lee/… $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 22:26
  • $\begingroup$ It seems Figure 7-7 is missing from the linked 7th edition. Do you know which is Figure 7-7 that Organic is referring to? Also, what do you think of amazon.com/…? I heard Sutton is too "conversational" - i.e. explains more the philosophy than the governing equations. It's obviously a good thing, just not for my purposes if this is the case. $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ Looks like it's been rearranged a bit. In my copy the diagram comes right after the SSME schematic which is on page 227 (document page, not pdf page) of the linked pdf. But the diagram is missing :( And just paging through this pdf, I kind of see what you mean - it seems like a LOT of the equations have been removed. I hate to say the book has been dumbed down, but..... ) Maybe try to find the 4th edition? $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ Would you be willing to repro that diagram here? $\endgroup$ Sep 4, 2015 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble wow that's an awesome block diagram, just what I need... except probably the equations it mentions are found elsewhere in the book? It seems that the 4th edition is nowhere to be found online, only the 7th and 8th editions. How could I possibly get a scanned copy of the 4th edition? $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2015 at 9:09

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