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Journey to Mars:
Hybrid Rocketry, Plasma,
Interstellar Orbits, and
the Red Planet
By Dr. John Brandenburg,
Folasade Akeloko, Christian Garcia,
Jacquelyn Cortes, Kujtime Muzhaku,
Taquazha Fair, & Louis Shackelford
Hybrid Rockets
Everclear 1 Project
Main Rocket Types
Turbo pump
Solid Fuel
Liquid Fuel
(pressure fed)
Liquid Fuel
(turbo pump fed)
Solid Fuel Rockets
•Solid fuel rockets are oldest
(China in ~200 AD)
•Simple and reliable
•Inexpensive, easy to Launch
•Part of Space Shuttle Booster
•Cannot be Throttled (stopped
and initiated again)
•Inefficient fuel burners
Solid Fuel
Liquid Fuel (turbo pump)
•Most commonly used space
launch vehicle
•Highest propulsion power
•Can be throttled
•Require complex systems
(stop-valves, injectors,
pumping machinery)
•Overall cost and weight are
•Storage/unreliability issues
Liquid Fuel
(turbo pump fed)
Hybrid Rockets
• Hybrid rockets are a combination of solid and liquid fuel
• Gaseous/liquid oxidizer is stored in a tank separate from
a solid fuel grain (simple design)
• High Propulsion Power (rivals the power of liquid fuel
• Burns more efficiently than solid fuel rockets
• Can be refueled
• Low relative cost and weight compared to Liquid Rockets
• Easily throttled
• Environmentally safe
• Storable and reliable
Everclear 1 Project
Improving the performance of
Everclear 1
• The solid fuel used in the hybrid rocket is an alcohol gel that is
extremely viscous.
• In order to improve the performance of the hybrid rocket, the alcohol
gel must contain both a concentrated alcohol and a thickener. The
thickener will be methyl cellulose.
• The concentrated alcohol will be obtained from a substance called
Everclear, which contains 95% alcohol.
• When a concentrated alcohol substance is combined with an
aqueous methyl cellulose solution, a thick alcohol gel will be formed.
• The viscosity of the gel determines its regression rate and the life of
the rocket.
What is Methyl Cellulose?
Methyl cellulose is a white powder that is non-toxic, odorless, and digestible. Its often
used as a thickener and emulsifier for popular products such as laxatives, ice cream
and in salad dressings.
When mixed with cold water, methyl cellulose has a high retention rate for water and
can absorb several times more water than its own weight.
An aqueous solution (colorless gel) of methyl cellulose is hardly affected by acids and
is not an ionic substance.
Methyl cellulose can be mixed with almost any substance and not alter its chemical
composition while thickening its texture.
What is Sterno?
• Sterno is an alcohol gel that is extremely viscous. It is
often used by chefs for heating foods and is preferred
because the gas produced from the burning alcohol is
• Sterno is made by combining an alcohol with a thickener.
• Several forms of sterno can be created using different
types of alcohols and thickeners.
The Future of Hybrid Rockets:
Everclear 1
• Combining alcohol gels and liquid fuels in
hybrid rockets extends rocket life.
• A rocket could be stopped in mid-air.
• The speed of a hybrid rocket can be
controlled by changing the rate at which
the liquid fuel is released into the rocket.
Hybrid Rocket Engine
Ignition Hole
Fuel Gain
Everclear 1
Hybrid Rocket Engine Test
Hybrid Engine Test cont.
Everclear Rocket Design v1
Everclear Rocket Design v1
1.) Small No2 Capsules
2.) Rubber Washer
3.) Ball Needle
4.) Thermal Valve
a.) Plastic Sealant
b.) Steel wire with match head
5.) Fuel tube
Everclear Rocket Design v1
Why it failed
• Small and light
• Availability of materials
• Cheap
• hard to handle
• Non modular
• A lot of mechnical work
Tough seal
Weak needle
Gas leaks
Match does not ignite
Everclear Rocket Design v2
Everclear Rocket Design v2
1.) CO2 Tank
2.) Valve
3.) Tube
4.) Thermal Valve
a.) Plastic Sealant
b.) steel wire with match head
5.) Fuel tube
Everclear Rocket Design v2
Why it failed
• Modular
• No puncturing
• controllable
• Thermal valve
• Heavy
• Pressure limit (temporary)
• 4th state of matter
• Energy causes
electrons to separate
from the atom
• Electrons can move
• Ionized/charged gas
• 99% of universe
Ball Lightning
• A natural sphere that
floats and glows for
only seconds
• Unknown as to how it
• Theory: form of plasma
• A ball lightning effect
can be made at home
in a microwave oven
Vacuum Chamber
• Decreases air pressure to increase plasma
• Nitrogen gives plasma its purple color when
• Electricity is the energy that helps create
• It increases the current of electrons to such an
extent that they knock off another electron in an
atom. This “knocking off of an electron” is when
we actually see the plasma.
Uses/Purpose of Plasma
• Dr. John Brandenburg is
working on creating plasma for
the Air Force.
• Plasma can be used as a
“force field” for satellites as
protection from radiation.
• People who are not happy
about satellites watching and
orbiting the earth send these
beams of radiation.
• A satellite would have to in turn
be shut off to avoid damage.
Branch of astronomy in which physics is applied to
observe properties of the universe:
• star life and formation
• movement and chemical composition of celestial objects
• history of the universe…
Life of a Star
• Nebula spins and
condenses to form a star
• Fusion powers the star
by converting its
abundance of hydrogen
into helium…
• When fuel is all burned
the star grows through a
process of death with a
dim or explosive end
Process of Death
• Blue dwarfs burn fuel
extremely fast and have a
violent end to their life
• Red giants burn their fuel
slowly and have a long
• Main sequence stars
eventually swell up to
form supergiants and
eventually dim to white
dwarf level
• Rare occurrence the stars
create blackholes or
neutron stars
• Hybrid Rockets are the future of the rocket
industry as result of their performance,
efficiency, low cost, and ease of storage
• The Everclear 1 was never launched
• Plasma engines and shields are the next
level of space technology
• Astrophysics is the key to human exploration
throughout the galaxy
• Mars colonization is the first step in the
development of human existence on distance
Special Thanks
The Harlem Children Society
Dr. Sat Bhattacharya
Dr. Leslie Lieberman
Dr. John Brandenburg
SpaceHab, Inc.
Florida Space Institute
University of Central Florida
The National Aeronautics and Space