Monday, 10 January 2011


Several years ago (more than I care to remember) I was studying at a fairly well known Aerospace Engineering educational establishment in Central England. Residing within the hallowed walls of this temple of technology was a reference collection widely regarded as the best Aeronautical Library outside of Cranfield University. 

Being a typical anoraky engineer I spent a lot of my free time in the library, either reading, trying to sober up (nice and quiet..plenty of booths to hide in..) or a combination of both. Here then was I introduced to GP Suttons' seminal text, "Rocket Propulsion Elements". I was also able to peruse a large number of fascinating reports on rocket engineering research and development. These were from the Royal Aeronautical Establishment (RAE) and elsewhere, going back to the late 1940s.

I was instantly hooked and started working through some of the design calculations detailed in Suttons' book. The results of these investigations, coupled with the practical and theoretical information in the RAE reports and my own engineering and materials experience, led me to conclude that the construction of a small Liquid Fuelled Rocket Engine would be perfectly feasible. In addition, the diversity of the design problems to be solved and the spread of constructional techniques to be employed would make it a highly absorbing and challenging project.

This idea remained on the back burner until mid 2006. By this time I had entered a different phase of my engineering career that had given me greater spare income and more free time. With the advent of the internet I had begun to research on my old idea and had discovered the NASA Technical Reports Server, not to mention Leroy Kryzyckis' "How to Design, Build and Test Small Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines". This latter text had the much the same effect on me as the early RAE reports; it convinced me that building  a rocket engine was "do-able". So I bought a lathe and made a start.

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