Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


William R. Murray


Applied research and testing has been conducted at the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo High-pressure Blow-Down facility to study the affects of throttling in a thrust-vectored aerospike nozzle. This study supports the ongoing research at Cal Poly to effectively thrust vector a hybrid rocket motor. Such thrust vectoring is achieved by small secondary ports in the nozzle body that are perpendicular to the main nozzle. The testing conducted included characterizing and comparing the performance of a straight aerospike nozzle to that of a thrust-vectored aerospike nozzle. Throttling effects on the aerospike nozzle in an unvectored and in a vectored configuration were also investigated. The interaction between throttling and thrust vectoring of an aerospike nozzle is the focus of this thesis research.

This research shows that large-throat/high-thrust operation of an aerospike nozzle provides little thrust vector generation. Conversely, small-throat/low-thrust operation provides ample thrust vector generation.

These results have implications in the effectiveness of thrust vectoring an aerospike nozzle with secondary ports. Rockets having an aerospike nozzle with throttling capabilities will be subject to the minimum and maximum turn angles for a given throttle position. As such, certain vehicle maneuvers might not be obtainable at certain throttle operations. Conversely, at lower throttling conditions, higher turn angles will be achievable.