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back to article Kiwis demo DARPA-funded rocket project

In a program under-reported beyond its own shores, New Zealand is working on some serious rocketry. The work is being conducted by a company called Rocket Lab, which last week released a video of a “shakedown test” of its research into propellants. Rocket Lab claims as its specialty a technology called viscous liquid …

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Exotic

But I'm wondering how far away this is from the "gel" propellants Rocketdyne have pushed for *decades* apparently with *no* success?

That said the launch was impressive and being a monopropellant makes it more challenging.

*if* this uses a catalyst this might be a way to get the stability of solids with some of the performance of liquids in a safe package.

That's a *big* if.

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Re: Exotic

The 1950s was a time of incredibly extensive propellant research but on what I know of the subject, a gelled monopropellant is really something new. In antique times the military was looking for storable propellants which worked in any climate, and eventually solid propellants were good enough to take the job. But until then the answers were sometimes excessively exciting.

They paid for some wild research then, and learned a lot about interactions between physics and chemistry in the rocket exhaust[1]. Gelled monopropellant is maybe the modern wild research, but getting it tested in a flying rocket, instead of on a test stand, is a big step. Not many things got past the test stand in the 1950s.

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Re: Exotic

"Not many things got past the test stand in the 1950s."

Although quite a few seemed to manage to get rid *of* the test stand.

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Getting rid of the test stand

Probably most stinks-and-bangs fans have already seen John Clark's insider history of rocket propellant development - if not here's a long and brilliant lunchtime read:

http://library.sciencemadness.org/library/books/ignition.pdf

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Re: Getting rid of the test stand

"Probably most stinks-and-bangs fans have already seen John Clark's insider history of rocket propellant development - if not here's a long and brilliant lunchtime read:"

The frontispiece test stand pictures (when it goes right, when it goes wrong) kind of sum it all up.

Burn-through-concrete oxidizers, glass etching exhausts, fuels that grit-blast a gas turbine as they burn.

The days when the answer to "What should we do with the H&S officer" was "Tie him up and if he complains, shoot him."

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I seem to remember that the Kiwis...

...are also working on a rocket-propelled Land Speed Record challenger, using a simple and novel engine. We need to keep an eye on our antipodean cousins - and not only on the rugger field...

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Re: I seem to remember that the Kiwis...

A few work with us at the office, damn bright those Kiwis, and when they win at the Rugby or Cricket damn annoying....

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Re: I seem to remember that the Kiwis...

'We need to keep an eye on our antipodean cousins - and not only on the rugger field...'

Don't worry they'll go after the Aussies first.

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Did it really overfly the Coromandel?

Flight as described has it launched in the Hauraki Gulf and landing east of the ranges, meaning it went over inhabited land. That seems bullish for a first launch of an experimental rocket, so I'd guess it was also launched in the east , but the company's press release is focused on the propellant. Anybody here know the flight details?

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Launched from Great Mercury Island

according to <http://www.3news.co.nz/Kiwi-rocket-trials-new-form-of-propulsion/tabid/1160/articleID/276537/Default.aspx> "some big space heavies like NASA and the US Navy, who flew all the way to Great Mercury Island, off the Coromandel Pensinsula, to watch this morning’s test launch"

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Re: Launched from Great Mercury Island

Thanks! makes a lot more sense than a Hauraki Gulf launch. If it hits Chile then I imagine DARPA will happily pay the compensation bill

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Any chance of some details?

A (sort of) liquid monopropellent. Hmm. Useful - certainly simpler.

But...

What about Isp figures? How does it compare (yes, I know it's early days but still...) to other fuels?

RP-1/LOX? Hydrogen/LOX?

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Re: Any chance of some details?

What about Isp figures?

Badly. It's actual competitor would be mechanical monopropellants IE solid rockets, so as long as it's around 250-260 it should be in with a shot. It's about "insensitive" munitions and *simplicity* of systems. If it's simple, safe to handle, dense and has *adequate* performance it's got to be a contender in the weapons market.

How does it compare (yes, I know it's early days but still...) to other fuels?

Likely *much* poorer than all the liquid/liquid systems in common use. Look at what the existing mono's manage. That's not the point.

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