10–12 July 2017
Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia

Missile Propulsion Design, Development, and System Engineering

8-9 July 2017 0800-1700 hrs


Missiles provide the essential accuracy and standoff range capabilities that are of paramount importance in modern warfare. Technologies for missile propulsion are rapidly emerging, resulting in the frequent introduction of new missile propulsion systems. The capability to meet essential requirements is often driven by missile propulsion. In this course, a system-level, integrated method is provided for missile propulsion design, development, and system engineering. The methods presented are generally simple closed-form analytical expressions that are physics-based, to provide insight into the primary driving parameters. Sizing examples are presented for rocket-powered, ramjet-powered, and turbo-jet powered baseline missiles. Typical values of missile propulsion parameters and the characteristics of current operational missiles are discussed as well as the enabling subsystems and technologies for missile propulsion and the current/projected state-of-the-art. Videos illustrate missile propulsion development activities and performance.

Key Topics

  • Key drivers in the missile propulsion design and system engineering process
  • Critical tradeoffs, methods, and technologies in propulsion system sizing to meet flight performance and other requirements such as observables, safety, reliability, and cost
  • Launch platform-missile propulsion integration
  • Propulsion sizing examples to meet baseline missiles performance requirements.
  • Missile propulsion system and technology development process

Who Should Attend

The course is oriented toward the needs of missile engineers, system engineers, system analysts, marketing personnel, program managers, university professors, and others working in the area of missile propulsion systems and missile propulsion technology development. Attendees will gain an understanding of missile propulsion design, missile propulsion technologies, launch platform integration, missile propulsion system measures of merit, and the missile propulsion system development process.

Course Outline

  1. Introduction/Drivers in Missile Propulsion Design, Development, and System Engineering: Example of missile subsystem packaging to maximize volume for propulsion. Overview of missile propulsion design and system engineering process. Examples of missile propulsion system-of-systems integration. Unique characteristics of propulsion for missiles. Missile conceptual design synthesis process. Example of process to establish missile propulsion requirements. Example of Pareto analysis of missile propulsion. Use of a propulsion baseline to expedite the design process.
  2. Aerodynamic Considerations in Missile Propulsion: Optimizing the missile configuration geometry for propulsion integration. Shapes for low observable propulsion. Missile aerodynamic configuration integration with the propulsion system. Aerodynamic flight control versus propulsion thrust vector and reaction jet flight control. Inlet alternatives for bank-to-turn maneuvering.
  3. Propulsion Considerations in Missile Design and System Engineering: Turbojet, ramjet, scramjet, ducted rocket, and solid propellant rocket propulsion comparisons. Turbojet engine design considerations, prediction and sizing. Advanced turbine materials. Compressor alternatives and performance prediction. Inlet-launch platform integration. Selecting ramjet engine, booster, and inlet alternatives. Ramjet performance prediction and sizing. Ramjet performance limitations. High density fuels. Solid propellant rocket motor design process. Solid propellant motor manufacturing. Solid propellant alternatives trade-offs. Propellant grain cross section trade-offs. Effective thrust magnitude control. Reducing propellant observables. Rocket motor performance prediction and sizing. Rocket motor ageing and lifetime prediction. Rocket motor pressure oscillation and combustion instability. Motor case and nozzle materials. Ducted rocket design considerations and tradeoffs.
  4. Weight Considerations in Missile Propulsion: How to size the propulsion system to meet flight performance requirements. Propulsion weight-flight performance sensitivity. Ballistic missile range prediction. Propulsion design criteria factor of safety. Selecting propulsion structure materials. Loads prediction. Propulsion weight prediction and motor case design. Aerodynamic heating prediction. Insulation material trades. Power supply and flight control actuator alternatives and sizing.
  5. Flight Performance Considerations in Missile Propulsion: Flight envelope limitations. Missile flight performance sizing-equations of motion. Maximizing missile flight performance. Benefits of boost-glide flight trajectory shaping. Flight performance prediction of boost, climb, cruise, coast, steady descent, ballistic, maneuvering, divert, and homing flight.
  6. Measures of Merit and Launch Platform Integration Considerations in Missile Propulsion: Optimum cruise conditions for air-breathing propulsion. Electromagnetic compatibility. Kinetic kill missiles. Launch plume observables. Radar cross section and infrared signature design considerations. Survivability considerations. Signature test requirements. Insensitive munitions. Enhanced reliability. Cost drivers including schedule, weight, learning curve, and parts count. EMD and production cost prediction. Logistics considerations. Designing within launch platform constraints. Launch platform integration problems. Standard launch platform interfaces and launchers. Internal vs. external carriage. Shipping, storage, carriage, launch, and separation environment considerations. Cold and solar environment temperature prediction.
  7. Missile Propulsion Sizing Examples and Sizing Tools: Rocket baseline missile sizing to meet standoff range requirement. Trade-offs for a harmonized rocket design. Lofted rocket range prediction. Ramjet missile sizing for range robustness. Ramjet fuel alternatives. Ramjet velocity control. Turbojet thrust and specific impulse. Turbojet missile low altitude range prediction. Turbojet missile sizing for maximum range. Prediction of turbojet engine rotational speed. Turbojet missile boost prediction. Conceptual design sizing tools.
  8. Missile Propulsion Development Process: Design validation/technology development process. Examples of development tests and facilities. Example of propulsion technology flight demonstration and flight envelope. Flight test requirements. Developing a technology roadmap. Propulsion development program attributes. Cost, risk, and performance tradeoffs. History of transformational technologies. History of propulsion upgrades. Current funding emphasis. Propulsion contractors consolidations. Example of propulsion technology development. New technologies for missile propulsion.
  9. Summary and Lessons Learned
  10. References and Follow-up Communication
  11. Appendices


Eugene L. Fleeman has 50+ years of government, industry, academia, and consulting experience in the design and development of missile systems and missile technologies. Formerly a manager of missile programs at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Rockwell International, Boeing, and Georgia Tech, he is an international lecturer on missiles and the author of over 200 publications including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) textbook Missile Design and System Engineering. A resume is available at the web site.

Course Materials

Course notes will be made available about one week prior to the course event. You will receive an email with detailed instructions on how to access your course notes. Since these notes will not be distributed on site, AIAA and your course instructor highly recommend that you bring your computer with the course notes already downloaded

Course Registration

Registration options include course only and course and forum together as well as undergraduate and graduates rates. Please click here to register.


Please contact Megan Scheidt if you have any questions about courses and workshops at AIAA forums.

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