ATI's Fundamentals of Rockets & Missiles course

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Fundamentals of Rockets & Missiles

3-Day Course

$1895 per person


This course provides an overview of rockets and missiles for government and industry officials, even those with limited technical experience in rockets and missiles. The course provides a practical knowledge in rocket and missile issues and technologies. The seminar is designed for engineers, supporting disciplines, decision makers and managers of current and future projects needing a more complete understanding of the complex issues of rocket and missile technology. The seminar provides a foundation for understanding the issues that must be decided in the use, regulation and development of rocket systems of the future. You will learn a wide spectrum of problems, solutions and choices in the technology of rockets and missile used for both military and civil purposes. The seminar is taught to the point-of-view of a decision maker needing the technical knowledge to make better informed choices in the multi-discipline world of rockets and missiles. The class provides what you need to know about how rockets and missiles work, why they are build the way they are, what they are used for and how they differ from use to use. You will learn how rockets and missiles differ when used as weapons, as launch vehicles, and in spacecraft or satellites. The objective is to give the decision maker all the tools needed to understand the available choices, and to manage or work with other technical experts of different specialized disciplines. Attendees will receive a 210-page text book by the presenter, covering all the course material in detail, and a complete set of printed class notes used during the class. The book is a more in-depth and permanent explanation of each slide presented in the class. These notes, and the book, will be an excellent future reference for anyone in the aerospace business.

View Course Sampler

  • Fundamentals of rocket and missile systems, functions and disciplines
  • The full spectrum of rocket systems, uses and technologies
  • Differences in technology between foreign and domestic rocket systems
  • Fundamentals and uses of solid, liquid and hybrid rocket systems
  • Differences between systems built as weapons and those built for commerce
  1. Introduction to Rockets and Missiles - The student is introduced to the historic and practical uses of rocket systems.

  2. Classifications of Rockets and Missiles - The classifications and terminology of all types of rocket and missile systems used as weapons of war, space exploration and commerce, are defined.

  3. Rocket Propulsion made Simple – The chemistry and physics defining how all rockets and rocket nozzles operate to achieve thrust is explained. Rocket performance modeling and efficiencies are introduced.

  4. Rocket Flight Environments – The flight environments of rockets, acceleration, propellant consumption, heating, shock, vibration, ascent profile and plume phenomenology are explored.

  5. Aerodynamics and Winds - The effect of winds, atmospheric density, pressure and rocket velocity on lift, drag, and dynamic pressure is explained. Rocket shape, stability and venting requirements are discussed.

  6. Performance Analysis and Staging – The use of low and high fidelity performance modeling, including performance loss factors, are defined. Staging theory, performance and practices for multi-stage rockets are explained.

  7. Mass Properties and Propellant Selection – No aspect is more important, or more often mismanaged, that optimum propellant selection. The relative importance of specific impulse, bulk density, bulk temperature, storability, ignition properties, stability, toxicity, operability, compatibility with materials, ullege requirements, and special mixtures are defined. Monopropellant and cold gas propellants are introduced.

  8. Introduction to Solid Rocket Motors – The historical and technological aspects of Solid Rocket Motors is explored to understand the applications, advantages, disadvantages and tradeoffs over other forms of rockets. Solid rocket materials, propellants, thrust-profiles, construction, cost advantages and special applications are explained.

  9. Fundamentals of Hybrid Rockets – The operation, safety, technology and Problems associated with hybrid rockets is discussed.

  10. Liquid Rocket Engines – Issues of pressure and pump-fed liquid rocket engines are explained, including injectors, cooling, chamber construction, pump cycles, ignition and thrust vector control.

  11. Introducing the Liquid Rocket Stage – The elements of liquid rocket stagesare introduced, including propellant tank systems, pressurization, cryogenics, and other structures

  12. Thrust Vector Control – Thrust Vector control hardware and alternatives are explained.

  13. Basic Rocket Avionics – Flight electronics elements of Guidance, Navigation, Control, Communications, Telemetry, Range Safety and Payloads are defined.

  14. Modern Expendable Launch Vehicles – The essence of good launch vehicle design is explored and defined, with examples of the American Delta-II and Russian strategy as an alternative.

  15. Rockets in Spacecraft Propulsion – The differences between launch vehicle booster rocket systems, and the systems found on spacecraft, satellites and transfer stages operating in microgravity and using hypergolic storable propellants, are examined.

  16. Launch Sites and Operations – The student is given an understanding of the role and purpose of launch sites, and the choices available for a launch operations infrastructure.

  17. Useful Orbits & Trajectories Made Simple – A simplified presentation of orbital mechanics, appropriate for the understanding of the role of rocket propulsion in orbital trajectories and maneuvers, is provided to the student.

  18. Safety of Rocket Systems – The hazards and mitigations of inherently hazardous rocket operations are examined.

  19. Reliability of Rocket Systems – The reliability issues in rocket systems, and strategies to improve reliability, are discussed, including random and systematic failures, non-linier reliability curves, environments and reliability, parts quality, robustness, redundancy, reliability trends and why failures exceed expectation in many rocket systems.

  20. Reusable Launch Vehicle Theory – The student is provided with an appreciation and understanding of why Reusable Launch Vehicles have had difficulty replacing expendable launch vehicles since the first operational space shuttle began service.

  21. Rocket Cost Principals and Cases – The student is introduced to cost estimation methods and cost model systems as a science. An understanding of why costs are so high is provided, with alternative strategies from the Soyuz Case to illustrate alternatives and limitations to cost reduction. The concept of integrated design modeling and positive incentives is introduced.

  22. Chemical Rocket Propulsion Alternatives – Alternatives to chemical rocket propulsion, including air breathing engines, nuclear engines, thermal engines, cannons, tethers and zero time-of-flight weapons.

  23. Proliferation of Missile Technology

  24. The Future of Rockets and Missiles – A final open discussion regarding the direction of rocket technology, science, usage and regulations of rockets and missiles is conducted to close out the class.

Tuition for this three-day course is $1890 at one of our scheduled public courses. Onsite pricing is available. Please call us at 410-956-8805 or send an email to

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Edward L. Keith is a multi-discipline Launch Vehicle System Engineer, specializing in integration of launch vehicle technology, design, modeling and business strategies. He is currently an independent consultant, writer and teacher of rocket system technology. He is experienced in launch vehicle operations, design, testing, business analysis, risk reduction, modeling, safety and reliability. Mr. Keith’s experience extends to both reusable and expendable launch vehicles, as well as to solid, liquid and hybrid rocket systems. Mr. Keith has designed complete rocket engines, rocket vehicles, small propulsion systems, and composite propellant tank systems, especially designed for low cost. His travels have taken him to Russia, China, Australia and other launch operations centers throughout the world. Mr. Keith has worked the Space Launch Initiative and the Liquid Fly-Back Booster programs for Boeing, originated the Scorpius Program for Microcosm, worked on the Brilliant Eyes and the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Programs for Rockwell and worked on the Aerojet Launch Detection Satellite program. He also has 13-years of government experience including five years working launch operations at Vandenberg AFB. Mr. Keith has written 22 technical papers and two textbooks on various aspects of space transportation over the last two decade.

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