Satellite Liquid Propulsion Systems


Liquid Rocket Propulsion Systems have been used on near-earth orbiting satellites and deep space interplanetary missions for the last five decades. This four-day course provides a comprehensive treatment of all types of spacecraft pressure-fed liquid propulsion systems including (1): Monopropellant hydrazine and hydrogen peroxide systems, (2): Bipropellant MMH/NTO systems, and (3): Dual Mode Hydrazine/NTO systems. This hands-on, application-oriented course covers the fundamentals and applications of liquid rocket propulsion to satellite design and operation for both spinning and three-axis configurations. The course includes propulsion Trade studies, Design and analyses, Component sizing and selection, Propulsion manufacturing, integration, and cleaning, System testing, Propellant loading and pressurization, Vertical and horizontal launch processing, Launch, Mission operations, On-station operations and Final de-orbiting of the satellite. Each student will receive a copy of complete set of lecture notes and the AIAA papers by the instructor.

What you will learn:

  • Fundamentals of
    • Rocket Propulsion and Rocket Engines
    • Liquid behavior in zero gravity
    • Flow of liquids and gases
  • Selecting the most appropriate propulsion system and components for specific application
  • Design & Analysis of propulsion systems and components.
  • Propulsion system Integration, Cleaning, and Testing.
  • Propulsion System Launch Site operations
  • Propulsion system Flight Operations and Trouble shooting
  • Propulsion system In-orbit operations, Predicting propellant life, Anomaly resolution, Satellite de-orbiting

Course Outline:

  1. Introduction: Course Overview, Definitions, Thrust principle, Evolution of propulsion system
  2. Satellite Propulsion Subsystems Overview: Pressurized blow-down systems, Pressure regulated systems, Monopropellant, Bipropellant, and Dual mode systems
  3. Liquid Rocket Engines: Thrust, Impulse, Specific impulse, Impulse-bit, Thrust coefficient, Catalytic decomposition, Combustion stoichiometry Mixture ratio, Adiabatic flame temperature, Monopropellant / Bipropellant / Dual mode thrusters, Radiatively-, regeneratively-, and film-cooled combustion chambers, Thrust chamber materials, Station keeping thrusters, Liquid apogee motors (LAMs), Thruster valve and Injector design, Hot-fire testing, Thruster transient thermal models
  4. Propellant and Pressurant Tanks: Titanium and composite material tanks, Spherical, coni-spherical, cylindrical and elliptical tanks, Common ox/fuel tank, Two-port and three-port tanks, Bladder, Diaphragm and PMD tanks, Tank mountings, Spun and forged titanium tank sizing and weight tradeoffs, Launch vehicle interface considerations, Tank testing
  5. Propulsion Valves, and Filters: Latch valve and squib valve design and function, valve pressure drop (orifice equations for liquids and subsonic/sonic gas flow), Design of valve backpressure relief feature, Laminar flow through filters, Establishing components / system leakage requirements, Gas versus liquid leakage, Zero-leakage criteria, Filter dirt handling capacity, Sizing of pneumatic pressure regulators, Pressure transducers, and Temperature sensors types and accuracy
  6. Monopropellant System Design and Performance Analysis: The Gas Law, Propellant fill fraction, Propellant Tank blowdown pressure profile, Helium budget; Blowdown system performance model, Recharge systems, Performance tradeoff examples, adiabatic compressibility.
  7. Bipropellant/ Dual Mode System Design & Performance Analysis: Propellant and helium tank pressure profile, Heat transfer in helium tanks, Joule-Thompson effect in pressure regulators, Propellant tank regulation and lockup pressures, Feed system laminar and turbulent pressure drop, Component pressure drop matching for equal withdrawal from connected fuel (or oxidizer) tanks, Flow coefficients, Thruster flow networks, Water hammer transients, System flow and performance modeling, The Rocket Equation and Propellant budgets
  8. Zero-Gravity Fluid Handling: Problems of Gas-free liquid acquisition in zero-gravity, Bubble traps in spinning satellites, Liquid/gas-vapor interface in zero gravity, Zero gravity hydrostatics and hydrodynamics, Capillary phenomena and surface tension forces, capillary strength against induced hydrostatic pressure and flow losses
  9. Propulsion Manufacturing, Testing, and Launch Site Operations: Post-manufacturing cleaning of subsystem, Establishing propulsion system/component flushing flow and number of flushing cycles, Propulsion system vacuum drying, System testing, Explosive potential of pressurized vessels ( TNT), Launch site safety requirements, Vertical / Horizontal ground processing, Helium gas solubility in liquid propellants, Propellant tank loading and pressurization, Helium tank pressurization
  10. Flight Operations: Orbit-raising maneuvers, On-orbit maneuvers Propellant life prediction techniques, Optimizing propellant life, End-of-life de-orbit strategies, Trouble shooting, Anomaly resolution


This course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses. If you are interested in attending this or another course as open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or at and indicate the course name and number of students who wish to participate. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a lead time of 3-5 months. Group courses can be presented at your facility at any time.For on-site pricing, request an on-site quote. You may also call us at (410)956-8805 or email us at


  • G. P. Purohit, a retired Boeing Technical Fellow, is a recognized industry expert in Spacecraft Propulsion. He has worked virtually all aspects of spacecraft liquid propulsion systems and components for the past 35 years at JPL and at Boeing. He has published extensively on spacecraft propulsion. He received his MS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Purohit teaches graduate courses at USC on Spacecraft Propulsion and Satellite Thermal Control. He also teaches short courses on Propulsion at AIAA and UCLA where he has been cited as the Best Instructor. Dr. Purohit has served as Chair, ASME Liquid Propulsion Technical Committee, and as Technical Programs Vice Chair., AIAA Los Angeles Section. Dr. Purohit is the recipient of The AIAA Wyld Propulsion Award, NASA Exceptional Achievement Award, The US Government Eagle Award, and Boeing Technical Excellence Award

    Contact this instructor (please mention course name in the subject line)

Request On-Site Quote