Augmented rockets increase thrust (about twice) by mixing the exhaust of a rocket with ambient air in order to accelerate a greater mass of gas at a lower speed. Is the effectivness of this system proportional to the speed of the rocket or does the shroud around the exhaust have the capability to suck in enough air to significantly increase performance even when the engine is static and alight?

  • $\begingroup$ I wonder if shroud could somehow help optimal exhaust expansion once in vacuum $\endgroup$
    – user19132
    Jan 27, 2019 at 11:40

3 Answers 3


The only one I know about, NASA's early 2000s GTX proposal, used external air from liftoff to Mach 11. This Rocket-Based Combined Cycle vehicle operated in the following modes:

  1. Mach 0.0 to 25: air augmented rocket
  2. Mach 2.5 to 5.5: ramjet
  3. Mach 5.5 to 11.0: scramjet
  4. Mach 11.0 - orbit: pure rocket

I doubt the air inlet provided much augmentation while the vehicle was static, but that is a very short part of the ascent.

enter image description here

There are a lot of interesting papers about GTX on NTRS, here are some.




  • $\begingroup$ Where does the oxidizer go? $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Jul 17, 2020 at 6:33

This is a late reply, but there's a more recent concept proposed in 2018: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326263323_The_Turbo_Rocket_-_A_high_performance_air-breathing_rocket_propulsion_system_with_nuclear_and_chemical_configurations. This proposes both nuclear and chemical designs, the second one being relevant to this question.


Based on this graph, the augmentation is present right from the start, but it's not as much as at supersonic speeds.


Ramjets work most efficiently at supersonic speeds around Mach 3 (2,300 mph; 3,700 km/h)

This limits the use of this technology.


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