I am working on a research project about developing rocket propulsion designs for school. More specifically, I am researching how rocket propulsion designs have changed over the last century, in terms of making it more effective through changes in propellant mix, structural design, shape of the rocket nozzle, pressure system, cooling systems etc. However, I have found little information on this topic, with that information being lacklustre in answering my question and providing a thorough insight. It would be greatly appreciated, if I could get a general overview of my question and some additional directions to studies, articles and credible sources for my study and research question.

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    $\begingroup$ Most research assistants get paid. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Here's a starting place, perhaps: arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 21 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ One starting place is the Scott Manley series "Kerbal Space Programme doesn't teach..." (on YouTube), particularly the ones about nozzles, engine cycles, and propellants. Those should give you some historical overview as well as a good list of individual systems and designs to research for when they were developed and implemented. $\endgroup$
    – E.P.
    Commented Apr 21 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ It might depend on how you define "effectiveness". There's a question/answer here where "effectiveness" is more narrowly defined as "the cost of delivery of cargo into orbit". $\endgroup$
    – phil1008
    Commented Apr 22 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ you might be interested in the different types of rocket engine from simplest to most complex: youtube.com/watch?v=Owji-ukVt9M $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Commented Apr 22 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


Well, some of the changes which I found are:

  1. Ignition in a vacuum
  2. Re ignitable engines
  3. Improved Isp
  4. Better nozzle expansion ratio
  5. More reliable engines
  6. Electric turbopump engines (Rutherford engines that power the electron rocket)
  7. Deep throttling
  8. More efficient combustion cycles
  9. Better fuel
  10. Super chilled cryogenic fuels (SpaceX's Falcon 9 uses super chilled LOX and Kerosene to run its Merlin engines)
  11. More powerful engines

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