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NASA Earth Space Transportation Science Technology

NASA Wants Green Rocket Fuel 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the save-the-earth-before-you-leave-it dept.
coondoggie writes "NASA is looking for technology that could offer green rocket fuel alternatives to the highly toxic fuel hydrazine used to fire up most rockets today. According to NASA: 'Hydrazine is an efficient and ubiquitous propellant that can be stored for long periods of time, but is also highly corrosive and toxic.' It is used extensively on commercial and defense department satellites as well as for NASA science and exploration missions."
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NASA Wants Green Rocket Fuel

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  • Ignition! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imbaczek (690596) <imbaczek&poczta,fm> on Friday February 10, 2012 @03:43AM (#38993127) Journal
    Everybody should read one book about rocket propellants: Ignition! [sciencemadness.org] by John D. Clark. Apart from it being a good (and hilarious at times) read, it'll also show you why this project will most likely end up being a waste of money.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 10, 2012 @04:06AM (#38993227)

    I had an uncle who was an honest to god rocket scientist. Stuff he made is sitting on the moon.

    In the 60's he was working for Thiokol (the company that went on to blow up the space shuttle Challenger) and was exposed to "something" during rocket motor testing. An area had not been vented, he was told it was, he entered the area. He did not really remember anything between going through the hatch and waking up in the hospital. Decades later he developed an odd cancer in his spine. My family always wonders if there was a connection between the chemical exposure and the cancer.

  • Re:God help us (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tibit (1762298) on Friday February 10, 2012 @09:10AM (#38994513)

    Doesn't it happen to be the propellant for the Dragon's thrusters -- used for launch escape, orbital maneuvering, attitude control, and perhaps even controlled descent. I don't see that last one panning out all that well: you probably don't want to step out from a Dragon capsule right after it touched down on Earth and breathe the fumes. There's always a bit of unburned stuff around, and it doesn't take much to make you sick AFAIK. Space Shuttle is a much bigger vehicle so it can support you hanging around until it's safe to egress -- just listen to NASA TV recordings from Shuttle landings and hear how long they stay after landing, doing checklists... On a Dragon there would be not much to do, and I don't know how much oxygen is left in the Spacecraft segment after landing -- i.e. how long can you stay put before popping the hatch; especially in emergency situations -- say somehow they blow a tank a-la Apollo 13 and need to get back ASAP, it'd be a sad thing to land safely just to get killed by hydrazine vapors... I'm sure they are considering all that, but it'd be interesting to read some documents giving a bit more detail to the procedures...

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