Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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New rocket propellant and motor design offer high-performance and safety

Scientists recently flight tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor design that also delivers a high degree of safety
December 22, 2014
Rocket flight test at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center launch site near Socorro, NM.

Rocket flight test at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center launch site near Socorro, NM.

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"What we're trying to do is break the performance versus sensitivity curve, and make a rocket that's both very high-energy, as well as very safe," said Bryce Tappan.

New rocket propellant and motor design offer high-performance and safety

Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists recently flight-tested a new rocket design that includes a high-energy fuel and a motor that also delivers a high degree of safety.

Conventional solid-fuel rocket motors work by combining a fuel and an oxidizer, a material usually rich in oxygen, to enhance the burning of the fuel. In higher-energy fuels this mixture can be somewhat unstable, and can contain sensitive high explosives that can detonate under high shock loads, high temperatures, or other conditions.

Los Alamos Novel Rocket Design Flight Tested
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Los Alamos Novel Rocket Design Flight Tested

The new rocket fuel and motor design adds a higher degree of safety by separating the fuel from the oxidizer, both novel formulations that are, by themselves, not able to detonate.

After years of development and bench-top static tests, the new rocket design was recently flight tested at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center's Socorro launch site, part of New Mexico Tech.


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