Advanced Space Propulsion

In This Section

Instructed by leading experts (NASA, Blue Origin, Academia) from the AIAA Nuclear and Future Flight Propulsion Technical Committee


In this unique and exciting 10-hour online course, leading experts from the AIAA Nuclear and Future Flight Propulsion Committee will take you through myriad topics in advanced space propulsion. An initial overview is provided on the wide breadth of advanced concepts, from the beginning of the early 20th Century to the next several hundred years with technologies ranging from fission, fusion, antimatter, high energy density chemical propellants, in-situ resource utilization, etc. The remaining 4 lectures focus on Mars missions using metallized gelled propellants, atomic (chemical) propellants for launch vehicles, nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) for Mars and other missions, and antimatter, and advanced physics.

Key Topics

  • Introduction and Overview of all advanced propulsion
  • Mars missions and metallized gelled propellants
  • Atomic (chemical) propellants for launch vehicles
  • Nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) for Mars missions
  • Fusion propulsion
  • Antimatter and advanced physics
  • Atmospheric mining in the outer solar system
  • (see below for detailed outline)

Who Should Attend: This course is intended for students, engineers, and managers involved in advanced space propulsion component and system design, development, testing, analysis, program management, contracts, or certification for flight.

Contact: Please contact Jason Cole or Customer Service if you have questions about the course or group discounts (for 5+ participants).

Course Outline:

Introduction and Overview of Advanced Propulsion (Robert Frisbee, NASA JPL, retired)
  • Limitations of state-of-the-art space propulsion technology
  • Where does advanced propulsion fit (typical mission applications)
  • Types of advanced propulsion concepts
  • Performance (specific impulse (Isp), thrust to weight (T/W), efficiency, power level, dry mass, etc.)
  • Critical feasibility issues
  • Extensive summary of current research and development in advanced propulsion

Advanced Chemical Propulsion (Bryan Palaszewski, NASA Glenn)
  • 2a. Mars missions, metallized gelled propellants
    • Mission assumptions
    • Metallized gelled propellant performance
    • Vehicle design changes for metallized gelled propulsion
    • Mission results and predicted payload improvements
  • 2b. Atomic Hydrogen for Launch Vehicles
  • Mission assumptions
  • Atomic propellant performance
  • Vehicle design changes for atomic propulsion
  • Vehicle sizing results and predicted payload and gross lift off weight improvements
Nuclear Propulsion for In-Space Missions (Jason Cassibry, University of Alabama, Huntsville)
  • Operating principles of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP)
  • Current NTP technology options and engine characteristics
  • Fusion propulsion physics, technology, and missions.

Antimatter and Advanced Physics (Jim Cavera, Blue Origin)
  • Introduction and Overview
  • Mission benefits, concepts, and analyses
  • Theoretical and experimental developments, in production and usage
  • Vehicle configurations

Atmospheric Mining in the Outer Solar System (Bryan Palaszewski, NASA Glenn)
  • Introduction and Overview
  • Mission benefits, concepts, and analyses
  • Vehicle configurations
  • Trajectory analyses
Lead Instructor: Mr. Bryan Palaszewski
Extensive experience with space flight related systems, technical definition, and execution of space-related projects. Over 38 years of experience with rocket propulsion systems analysis and management of space flight related contracts, university grants, and government laboratories. Extensive experimental experience with rocket propulsion and combustion test articles. A total of 42 years of experience with technical research in the government and university environments. He has worked at the NASA Glenn Research Center since 1989 and worked for 6 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1983 to 1989.
Dr. Robert Frisbee
Dr. Frisbee has conducted research in advanced space propulsion for many decades. His work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began with the inception of the Advanced Propulsion Group and spanned work on in-situ resource utilization to matter-antimatter propulsion. His work was also critical to solving propellant flow decay for the Galileo Mission to Jupiter. His presentation will cover an extraordinary number of advanced propulsion concepts. Virtually any of these could revolutionize space exploration. However, the historical reality is such that it typically takes decades to go from concept to flight. Nevertheless, although costly, flight demonstration missions are critical for acceptance by project managers who historically are very risk adverse.

Dr. Jason Cassibry
Dr. Jason Cassibry obtained a B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri in Rolla in 1997, his M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1999, and his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) while performing research at NASA MSFC in 2004. His research involved numerical modeling of magnetized target fusion for propulsion. From 2003-2004, he served as a research engineer in the Propulsion Research Center (PRC) at UAH and after receiving his Ph.D. became an assistant research professor.

Mr. Jim Cavera 
Mr. Cavera, a Test Engineer with Blue Origin, is an accomplished physicist with extensive knowledge of processes and methods of formulating advanced propulsion systems. Purdue University, Graduate work - Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering; and Nuclear Engineering - Activities: Designed and developed a nuclear reactor temperature monitoring system. Designed and developed a test stand for a liquid-fueled rocket. Designed a dense plasma focus device for nuclear fusion research. Graduate work in nuclear engineering and aerospace engineering with a focus on fusion space propulsion systems, particularly dense plasma focus devices.