Flowfield structure in a fin-slot solid rocket motor (Part I)

Jeffrey D. Moore, Robert B. Wehrman, Kenneth K. Kuo, Peter J. Ferrara, Ryan W. Houim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


To accurately predict the overall ignition transient for the reusable solid rocket motor of the space shuttle booster with head-end fin slots, it is necessary to acquire detailed flowfield structure and energy transfer rates on the exposed inert fin-slot propellant surfaces. This paper is the first of a two-part study and deals with the internal flowfield structure and heat-transfer characteristics in the fin-slot region. A subscale (1:10) pie-shaped fin-slot motor was designed to perform diagnostic measurements. An array of 36 flush-mounted heat-flux gauges was installed to detect the local temperature-rise rates at representative regions perpendicular to the propellant surface. Flowfield visualizations were conducted by applying either a chalk-powder/kerosene mixture or many small threads taped to various locations on the inner surface of the sacrificial window of the fin-slot region for high-speed video camera recording. Computational fluid dynamics simulations were performed for modeling the internal flowfield of the test rig. Results were used to develop a heat-transfer correlation governed by the internal flowfield structure within the fin-slot region. The theoretically calculated and experimentally observed internal flowfield patterns were similar in nature. The heat-transfer rates determined from the developed correlation matched the measured data trend within the experimental error. The flowfield structure and heat-transfer rate distribution are mainly governed by the major recirculating flow induced by the igniter jet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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