College of Engineering and Polymer Science

Date of Last Revision

2024-06-04 07:21:47


Mechanical Engineering

Honors Course

MECE 461 - 012

Number of Credits


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Date of Expected Graduation

Spring 2024


Interplanetary Travel requirements necessitate the use of increasingly complex propulsion systems. Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) is a cutting-edge concept that holds immense potential for the future of space exploration. By utilizing nuclear fission to heat a propellant and generate thrust, NTP offers the potential for unprecedented efficiency, enabling faster interplanetary travel and extended mission capabilities. A nuclear thermal rocket engine is a type of propulsion system that utilizes the heat generated by a nuclear reactor to heat and expel a propellant, typically hydrogen, at high velocities to produce thrust. The engine consists of three main subsystems: the nuclear reactor, the propellant flow system, and the nozzle.

Testing remains the gold standard of system verification. However, the complexity, cost, and risk associated with NTP testing, both on ground and in space, create the need for improved modeling of NTP systems. This project will focus on the development of a thermal hydraulic model created in MATLAB to analyze NTP system performance characteristics, the use of orbital mechanics software for the evaluation of Venusian flight trajectories utilizing NTP, and the use of CAD modelling software to demonstrate the integration of NTP system components.

Research Sponsor

Dr. Manigandan Kannan

First Reader

Dr. Michael Houts

Second Reader

Daniel Falkenbach

Honors Faculty Advisor

Dr. Daniel Quinn

Proprietary and/or Confidential Information




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