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Tech Question: Rocket Fuel

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posted on May, 30 2004 @ 12:40 PM
This issue may fair better in Science and Technology, but my concern specifically regards potential Space Exploration and possible stonewalls.

First: What is Rocket Fuel? How is it made? From fossil fuels?

Seems like a pretty basic question, but my concern is running out of fossil fuel before any serious technology exists to truly explore space. I realize there may be alternate power sources once outside orbit, like Solar or Nuclear, but as far as leaving the Earth's gravity go...I'm unaware of anything other than Rocket Fuel to do the job.

So I guess the second question is: What alternatives are being explored if any? Specifically, alternatives to overcoming Earths' gravity?

I'm no tech head, so pardon the ignorance...but I can't imagine a worse situation than having all the Space exploration technology in the world at our disposal in 100 years and no oil to get off the ground.

Please no Element 115 jokes.

[Edited on 30-5-2004 by RANT]

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:01 PM
Rockets carry oxygen and some type of propellant, either liquid or solid.

They don't use fossil fuels though. Rockets right now are the only way to escape gravity. There have been some pretty wild ideas as how to get things into space without rockets since they are prohibitavely expensive, things like giant sling shots and magnets.

I'll try to get more specifics for you...

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:03 PM
I'm not a big space head, so I'm not for 100% sure, but I believe they use hydrogen and oxygen for launch, and the solid rockets are a mix of ammonium perclhlorate and powdered aluminium.
They are also supposed to use hydrazine for attitude controls in the satellites too I think. (N2H4)

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:05 PM
Thanks for the input guys!

I was worried.
Seems like a stupid question now, though I have another one...

So if they make Rocket Fuel in a lab, why can't we do that for all fuel?

Too volitale?

(I mean I know we can't make oil, but rather power everything with a form of rocket fuel?)

Vroom, Vroom!

[Edited on 30-5-2004 by RANT]

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:06 PM
liquid oxygen and hydrogen i believe. i know some of the smaller rockets also use hyroden peroxide.

i know some larger model rockets use the ammonium perclhlorate and powdered aluminium mrdead mentioned. the smaller ones just use black powder.

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:11 PM
This website has more specifics on stuff for it, the mixtures are more complicated than hydrogen and oxygen, since hydrogen is a little too explosive.

I'm trying to find more ideas on how to get into space besides rockets, have a little hard time with it, but I'll find it.

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:16 PM
Hey that HOWSTUFFWORKS site has everything! Thanks MJ.

I guess there's no real reason then not to just use fossil fuel up and forget about it. Would solve alot of problems.

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:22 PM
Rant they are using hydrogen to power cars now in hydrogen fuel cells.
The fuel cells convert hydrogen and oxygen to water and give out electricity and some heat.

and interestingly enough a search about fuel cells shows that they provide power to the space shuttle orbiter (3 12kW cells)

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 01:25 PM
The shuttle solid boosters are the ammonium perchlorate and looks like pencil erasers and burns really rough. The main engines use hydrogen and oxygen. The Auxiliary Power Units on the shuttle are fueled by hydrazine - which is extremely toxic. The on-orbit attitude jets also use hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide. Again, very toxic. That is one of the reasons why the shuttle basically has to lose attitude during any EVA, because they cannot have any unspent hydrazine floating around with the astronauts out there.

posted on May, 30 2004 @ 04:44 PM

Originally posted by RANT
I guess there's no real reason then not to just use fossil fuel up and forget about it. Would solve alot of problems.

Problems like overpopulation? And plastic? And medicine?

I'm all for getting over the fosil fuels, but its not going to be easy.

posted on May, 31 2004 @ 08:56 AM
Check out somthing called "project orion", they did seriously think about this and built small scale test models that worked.

A Quote :-

"Orion is one of the great "what if's" of the twentieth century. Today, nuclear powered spaceships seem like little more than laughably naive 1950's science fiction, but it might have been otherwise...and still could be. Orion was a project aimed at discovering the feasibility of spaceships driven by nuclear bombs.
The initial plan called for manned missions to Mars by 1965 and Saturn by 1970. After seven years of work, the project's technical challenges seemed surmountable, but political obstacles brought the effort to a halt"


"A project to explore the feasibility of building a nuclear-pulse rocket powered by nuclear fission. It was carried out by physicist Theodore Taylor and others over a seven-year period, beginning in 1958, with United States Air Force support. The propulsion system advocated for the Orion spacecraft was based on an idea first put forward by Stanislaw Ulam and Cornelius Everett in a classified paper in 1955. Ulam and Everett suggested releasing atomic bombs behind a spacecraft, followed by disks made of solid propellant. The bombs would explode, vaporizing the material of the disks and converting it into hot plasma. As this plasma rushed out in all directions, some of it would catch up with the spacecraft, impinge upon a pusher plate, and so drive the vehicle forward.

Project Orion originated at General Atomics in San Diego, a company (later a subsidiary of General Dynamics) founded by Frederick de Hoffman to develop commercial nuclear reactors. It was de Hoffman who persuaded Freeman Dyson to join Taylor in San Diego to work on Orion during the 1958-59 academic year.

Ulam and Everett's idea was modified so that instead of propellant disks, the propellant and bomb were combined into a single pulse unit. Plastic was chosen as the propellant material, not only because of its effectiveness in absorbing the neutrons emitted by an atomic explosion but also because it breaks down into lightweight atoms such as those of hydrogen and carbon which move at high speed when hot. This approach, in tandem with the pusher plate concept, offered a unique propulsion system that could simultaneously produce high thrust with high exhaust velocity. The effective specific impulse could theoretically be as high as 10,000 to one million seconds. A series of abrupt jolts would be experienced by the pusher plate, so powerful that, if these forces were not spread out in time, they would result in acceleration surges that were intolerable for a manned vehicle. Consequently, a shock absorbing system was devised so that the impulse energy delivered to the plate could be stored and then gradually released to the vehicle as a whole.

Various mission profiles were considered, including an ambitious interstellar version. This called for a 40-million-ton spacecraft to be powered by the sequential release of ten million bombs, each designed to explode roughly 60 m to the vehicle's rear. In the more immediate future, Orion was envisaged as a means of transporting large expeditions to the Moon, Mars, and Saturn"

The Links:-

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