The turbine is at the heart of any jet engine with its primary task being…
A very important parameter when designing jet engines is specific power – the amount of power output divided by the mass of the engine. In general, a good heuristic to keep in mind when designing anything that moves is that maximising the power output per unit mass leads to a more efficient design. Afterburning is […]
J.E. Gordon, a leading engineer at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and holder of the British Silver Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, wrote two brilliant books on engineering: “The New Science of Strong Materials” and “Structures – Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down”. Elon Musk has recommended […]
On December 17 1903, the bicycle mechanic Orville Wright completed the first successful flight in a heavier-than-air machine. A flight that lasted a mere 12 seconds, reaching an altitude of 10 feet and landing 120 feet from the starting point. The Wright Flyer was made of wood and canvas, powered by a 12 horsepower internal combustion engine […]
After Germany and its allies lost WWI, motor flying became strictly prohibited under the Treaty of Versailles. Creativity often springs from constraints, and so, paradoxically, the ban imposed by the Allies encouraged precisely what they had actually wanted to thwart: the growth of the German aviation industry. As all military flying was prohibited under the Treaty, […]
On November 8, 1940 newspapers across America opened with the headline “TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE COLLAPSES”. The headline caught the eye of a prominent engineering professor who, from reading the news story, intuitively realised that a specific aerodynamical phenomenon must have led to the collapse. He was correct, and became publicly famous for what is now known as […]
How quickly do the small bubbles of gas rise in a pint of beer?
To answer this question we will use the concept of aerodynamic drag introduced in the last two posts […]
At the start of the 19th century, after studying the highly cambered thin wings of many different birds, Sir George Cayley designed and built the first modern aerofoil, later used on a hand-launched glider. This biomimetic, highly cambered and thin-walled design remained the predominant aerofoil shape for almost 100 years, mainly due to the fact that […]
Despite the growing computer power and increasing sophistication of computational models, any design meant operate in the real world requires some form of experimental validation. The idealist modeller, me included, wants to believe that computer simulation will replace all forms of experimental testing and thereby allow for much faster design cycles. The issue with this […]
(Caveat: There is a little bit more maths in this post than usual. I have tried to explain the equations as good as possible using diagrams. In any case, the real treat is at the end of the post where I go through the design of rocket nozzles. However, understanding this design methodology is naturally easier […]
This is the fourth and final part of a series of posts on rocket science. Part I covered the history of rocketry, Part II dealt with the operating principles of rockets and Part III looked at the components that go into the propulsive system.
One of the most important […]
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