View Full Version : IP and rocket engines

2007-Aug-26, 04:52 PM
What portion of a rocket engines cost is given over to intellectual property? Are there still patents on some of the essential parts, that engine manufacturers have to pay royalties for?

2007-Aug-27, 03:53 AM
LOL, I was wondering what Internet Protocol had to do with rocket engines. I guess I will never know. Not sure about the cost of licensing, but patents don't last forever. I guess it depends on how old of tech the rocket is based upon.

2007-Aug-28, 01:12 PM
I know NASA paid Goddard's estate for some of his patents, but I would think that since most of the rocketry work was done for the government that any patents would belong to them - or at least they wouldn't have to pay for them.

Larry Jacks
2007-Aug-28, 05:53 PM
Goddard actually didn't do that much work for the government. Starting in 1929, he got most if not all of his funding (http://www.roswell-nm.gov/VistorCenter/goddard.html) from the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation.

A 1929 news account of one of Goddard's outdoor tests caught the attention of Charles Lindbergh who quickly became an avid supporter. Funding arranged by Lindbergh, largely from the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation, made it possible for Goddard to work on rocketry full time and on a much larger scale. A search for open spaces and good year round weather led him to Roswell, New Mexico, a place, as his wife Esther would remark, "where we would not bother anyone, and no one would bother us."

In the Summer of 1930, the Goddards and a crew of four arrived at Mescalero Ranch, a 10-acre farm at the edge of Roswell. A test stand and workshop were built adjacent to the house. With the permission of a local rancher a launch tower was constructed on a section of secluded prairie about 10 miles outside of town. Over the next twelve years Goddard and his crew made major strides in rocket propulsion, as well as the practical matters of launch control, stabilization, tracking, and recovery. In all, there were 56 flight tests in Roswell, with 17 flights reaching over 1000 feet in altitude. Unfortunately, just as the work was truly coming to fruition, a WW2 contract required Goddard to abandon his flight testing and turn his attention to specialized rockets for assisting heavily laden aircraft during takeoff. He died while under Navy contract in Annapolis, Maryland.

Here is some info on his patents (http://www.chris-winter.com/RHGoddard/Patents.html) (over 200 of them):

The portfolio of patents granted to Dr. Goddard covers most of the components used today in liquid-fuel rockets. As Wernher von Braun said later, "This man had everything." I will not attempt to do more than list the highlights here. But the first two, from 1914, deserve mention. Patent 1,103,503 describes a combustion chamber, with expander nozzle, into which liquid fuels are pumped. Patent 1,102,653 covers the multi-stage rocket concept.

Among Dr. Goddard's other technical achievements in rocketry are:

A solid-fuel projectile launched from a tube (1918)
As mentioned, this was developed into the bazooka during WW II.
A "resonance chamber" motor for an air-breathing rocket (1934)
It is known that this patent was translated into German. The motor used in the V-1 was based on it.
Ways of handling and using cryogenic propellants (liquid oxygen)
Methods of using in-flowing fuel to cool the combustion chamber and nozzle
Pressurization of fuel tanks by an inert gas to push the fuels into the chamber
The pressure regulators for above
Centrifugal high-pressure pumps for fuel feeding.
Seals for above pumps
Movable vanes to steer a rocket by redirecting exhaust gases
Gyroscopically controlled stabilization system using above vanes
Various igniter systems
Variable-thrust rocket motors
Methods of measuring rocket thrust and other parameters
Remote-control methods for rocket launches

What is noteworthy about this list (still incomplete) is its scope. Essentially on his own, Dr. Goddard worked out and actually demonstrated much of the practical basis of astronautics. Now, recall that the U.S. government could not be persuaded to make use of these ideas until the Third Reich drove the point of their utility home in the closing days of World War II.

2007-Aug-30, 10:51 AM
Wow - that's quite a list!

Goddard was obviously a very busy and gifted inventor, obviously with an extensive practical and intuitive understanding of physics.