"I cant imagine making this stuff by pouring shit into spirally glassware and laughing deeply is going to have a low enough mortality rate to get very far."
Well actually.......this hydrazine rocket technology goes back to the 1930's in Germany and I strongly suspect that to a large extent the research was fairly empirical, with many resultant mishaps. Remember they had plenty of research workers whose lives didn't matter. Or rather, didn't matter to the Germans.
Nowadays things are done more safely - partly due to those who died
In another thread recently someone quoted how many had died during the V2 manufacturing and research projects