Advanced Solid Rockets


Solid propulsion is vital to tactical, space, strategic and launch vehicles. The course examines fundamental and advanced concepts related to solid rockets. Theoretical and practical aspects of the field are covered. This course is based on the “Advanced Solid Rocket Propulsion” graduate-level mechanical engineering course taught at the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH). All instructors are experienced solid rocket experts and many were involved with the UAH course. The individual presentations included in this short course include broad rocket motor and system design principles, internal ballistics modeling, propellant fundamentals, component design (motor case, nozzle, and igniters), component and motor manufacturing, combustion instability, and motor failures.

Key Topics:

  • Broad rocket motor and system design principles
  • Internal ballistics modeling and combustion instability
  • Propellant fundamentals
  • Component design
  • Motor manufacturing
  • Testing and failures
  • Click below for full outline

Who Should Attend:

Engineers and scientists in the rocket propulsion industry who are involved in solid rocket motor design, development, and analysis, and engineers and managers who oversee and interface with solid rocket motor contractors.

Course Information:

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Advanced
Course Length: 2 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes


I. Motor Design
II. Propellant Fundamentals
III. Ballistics
IV. Combustion Instability
V. Case Design
VI. Nozzle Design
VII. Igniter Design
VIII. System Trades
IX. Motor Manufacturing
X. Materials and Processes
XI. Testing and Verification
XII. Failure Investigations
XIII. Advanced Concepts




This course is organized and taught by industry leading experts from the AIAA Solid Rockets Technical Committee.


David Poe

Lead Instructor

Dr. Robert Frederick

Dr. Frederick received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1988. 
He has worked in industry and government on everything from turbine blades to propellant formulation. 
He is currently a Professor and the Interim Director of the University of Alabama at Huntsville Propulsion Research Center.  He has taught this entire class at UAH four times as a graduate course and distance learning professional development.  
He is going to go through an introduction to Solid Propellant Rocket motors that was actually put together by Bob Geisler.

Dr. Mark Langhenry
Dr. Langhenry received his Ph.D. from Auburn University in 1985. 
He was employed by Lockheed Martin in Denver, CO, where he helped develop and integrate large Solid Rocket Motors into space launch vehicles including the Titan IVB SRMU.  He was the lead propulsion engineer on the team that developed the strap-on SRMs for the Atlas V launch vehicle. 
Since 2005 Dr. Langhenry has been employed with Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, as Senior Staff in the Energetics and Propulsion Department where he is involved in Solid Rocket Motor development and integration for various missile systems.

Allan J. McDonald
Dr. McDonald received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Montana State University in 1959 and an M.S. in Engineering Administration from the University of Utah in 1967. 
He worked in design engineering, project engineering, propellant development, and program management during his 42-year career at ATK Thiokol Propulsion, retiring in 2001.  He was the Director of the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Motor Project at the time of the Challenger accident and led the redesign of the SRM as Vice President of Engineering for Space Operations in the return-to-flight program for the Space Shuttle.
He received an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from Montana State University in 1986 and was selected as the Distinguished Centennial Alumnus of the university in 1987.
He is a Fellow and Distinguished Lecturer for AIAA; he is a past chairman of the Solid Rocket Technical Committee and the Space Transportation Technical Committee as well as past chairman of the Utah Section of AIAA and the 1993 recipient of AIAA’s most prestigious award for rocket propulsion, the Wyld Propulsion Award.
He has published over 80 technical papers and made presentations to numerous technical organizations and universities throughout the world.  He has received many awards for his professional activities, does consulting for various aerospace companies and government agencies, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Orbital Technologies Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin.
In March 2009, Mr. McDonald published a book through the University Press of Florida entitled Truth, Lies, and O-rings: Inside the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, with the help of Dr. James R. Hansen of Auburn University. 

Dr. Jamie Neidert
Dr. Neidert is responsible for the vision and direction of the energetic material efforts within the Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development & Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL.  His duties include solid propellant formulation and characterization as well guidance of the synthesis and characterization of new energetic materials.  He is the lead for the OSD Joint Insensitive Munitions Technology Program (JIMTP) as the Munitions Area Technical Group-II for minimum signature propellants, as well as the chair for the Technical Cooperative Group-III for Energetic Materials as part of the OSD Joint Munitions Program (JMP) with the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear labs.  Additionally, he is the U.S. technical lead on the OSD IM Hazards Project Arrangement (PA) with the United Kingdom and the Army National Lead for The Technical Cooperative Program with the UK, CA, AU and NZ.
Prior to joining the U.S. Army as a civilian, Dr. Neidert worked for Thiokol Corporation in both Huntsville and in Utah; and for Atlantic Research Corporation (ARC) as a propellant formulator, propellant function chief, automotive/gas generator formulator, airbag team lead, and in business development. 
His primary research focus throughout his career has been in Minimum Signature (MS) solid propellants.  He has authored over 60 papers and has nine patents.

Robert Black III
Rob got his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware and a Masters in Engineering from Purdue University.  
He was a ballistician on strategic solid rocket motors at Thiokol Corporation in Promontory, Utah for four and a half years.
Rob is currently the manager of Ballistics at Aerojet-Gainesville.  He has been with ARC/Aerojet for almost 15 years. 
He has worked on rocket motors ranging from 1.6 micro grams to 108,000 pounds of propellant.   He has also worked on gas generators in the area of Fire Suppression and automotive airbags. 

Dr. Fred Blomshield
Fred has worked in the area of combustion instability for over 26 years and has published over 125 reports, papers and articles including AIAA book chapters on combustion instability.  He was awarded recognition as a NAVAIR Associate Research Fellow which represents the top 3% of NAVAIR engineers and scientists. 
He currently heads up a branch of 25 scientists and engineers working on various aspects of solid propellant combustion including hazards, shipboard fires, combustion diagnostics, metal combustion, air breathing combustion and combustion instability for NAVY, DOD and NASA applications. 

Karl Naumann
Karl received his masters in Mechanical Engineering in 1981 and his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering in 1984, both from the University of Karlsruhe.  

From 1985 until 1998 he worked as a scientist at the German-French Research Institute ISL on gas dynamics, aeroballistics, aerothermodynamics, and measuring techniques.
In 1999 he joined Bayern-Chemie and has been the Head of Technology Programs, the Head of Development and Technology, and is now the Director of Strategy and Business Development. 
He has worked on technology programs such as: the SRM for the hypervelocity Ma-7 testbed missile HFK, the flight demonstrations of the Double-Pulse SRM missiles LFK-NG and MSA, and the development and flight demonstration of a rocket motor burning gelled propellants.

Michel Berdoyes
Michel has a 25 years of experience in solid propulsion technologies at Snecma Propulsion Solide, Safran Group.  Early in his career he worked on advanced technology tactical SRM demos.  Later he managed the SRM Nozzle design and development department for about ten years.  He was in charge of the development of numerous nozzles such as the new SLBM M51 SRM nozzles, the design evolutions of the Ariane 5 Strap-on nozzle and the development of the Vega P80 SRM nozzle.
For the last 3 years he has headed the Composite Material Development department and beginning this year is the manager of the Technical Audit Department of Snecma.
He is Solid Propulsion Senior Expert at Safran.  Thrust vector control technologies are one of his main areas of expertise.  He is also an AIAA associate Fellow and has been member of the SRTC for many years now.

Ed Casillas
Ed received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from San Jose State University in 1979, and did various graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering until 1985. 
Ed has more than 20 years of experience at CSD and Aerojet in lead, support, or managing capacity of systems analysis and preliminary SRM propulsion design and trade studies. 
He has worked on several programs from large and small launch vehicles, to strategic missiles, to tactical missiles.  He is Aerojet’s go-to guy for system level trade studies.

Dave McGrath
Dave earned his bachelors and masters degrees from Purdue University in 1983 and 1984. 
He has worked at ATK-Elkton and ATK-Promontory for the past 26 years.  He has led many IR&D development programs and hardware demonstration programs including the entire IR&D program at Elkton.   He was the Director of Systems Engineering and Chief Engineer for the Ares I-X launch vehicle first stage while he was at ATK-Promontory. 
Dave is currently the chief engineer for the Orion Launch Abort System Attitude Control Motor, which successfully flew in May 2010.
He has written 35 papers and presented at many AIAA workshops, short courses, and lunch-and-learns.  He is an Associate Fellow and past Director of Propulsion and Energy as well as SRTC chair for AIAA and was awarded the Sustained Service award in 2009.

Anna di Cosmo
Anna graduated with special honours with a degree in Chemistry at the University of Bari (Italy) in 2001.
She was a researcher for over four years at Lamberti S.p.A (a fine chemicals company), getting experience in synthetic-polymers Polyurethane R&D laboratory.
In 2005 she joined Avio SpA, in Rome, and spent her early career working in composite materials for structural thermal protection applications. She was involved in materials selection, characterization, development and industrial process for the composites cases and nozzles of the three solid rocket motor stages of the Vega launch vehicle (Zefiro 9, Zefiro 23 and P80).
Anna is now a Senior Scientist in the Process Engineering, Materials, and Laboratories Department.  She is responsible for space solid propellant research, development, and industrial process for the three solid rocket motor stages of the Vega launch vehicle and for the boosters of the Ariane 5 launch vehicle.
She has three patents in the field of polyurethane (crosslinkers, adhesives and rheology modifiers) and has several publications in technical literature.

Helmut Ciezki
Dr. Helmut Ciezki studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Aachen in Germany. After getting his degree, he worked at the university on self ignition processes.  In 1990 he received his doctor-engineer degree (similar to the American PhD) with a thesis on “Self Ignition Characteristics of n-Heptane/Air-Mixtures”. 
In 1991 he started to work at the Institute of Space Propulsion of the German Aerospace Center DLR and is now the head of the propellants department.  He is also a lecturer at the University of Cooperative Education at Mosbach and guest lecturer at Stuttgart University.  
His fields of interest include:  multiphase combustion and mixing processes; gel propulsion; advanced propellants; particle combustion; and ramjet, scramjet, liquid, and solid rocket combustion processes.


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