The effects of any budget/program decisions made since the information was collected during 1997-98 are NOT reflected in the National Security Space Road Map (NSSRM).

(U) Propellant Development

-Road Map
-Text Version

Overview (U):

(U) This subthrust develops new solid, liquid, and advanced propellants for future Air Force launch and missile systems. The work on solid propellants addresses the primary requirements of the Air Force for high performance, low cost, and reliable solid rocket motors. The liquid propellants work addresses the development of new hydrocarbon additives or replacements for RP-1 based fuels and new energetic non-toxic storable oxidizers and monopropellants. The advanced propellant work addresses potential improvements in current cryogenic propellants via the use of cryogenic solids containing high energy density matter (HEDM) additives. These technologies may also be applied to space propulsion systems.

Description (U):

(U) Identify, produce, characterize, and stabilize molecular systems that have potential use as energetic rocket propellants. New chemical propellants are needed because current rocket propellants have reached their performance limit Emphasis will be placed on developing systems with large heats of formation or reaction per unit mass of the reactants. However, other considerations will be taken into account such as reactivity, stability, and compatibility. This in-house project will incorporate both experimental and theoretic efforts to be conducted at Phillips Lab. Efforts include:
a) identification of new, denser, more-energetic cryogenic fuels and oxidizers to replace LH2 and LOX,
b) dense, energetic, liquid hydrocarbon fuels to replace RP-1,
c) storable, dense, non-toxic, liquid monopropellants which outperform hydrazine,
d) liquid oxidizers for solution propellant applications
e) storable, dense, non-toxic oxidizers as replacements for N2O4 and IRFNA,
f ) non-halogenated solid oxidizers to replace ammonium perchlorate, and
g) solid, gel, "solution" propellants with significant processing advantages over conventional cured solid propellants.

(U) The propellant programs are arranged to address three phases of potential improvements to solid rocket and hybrid rocket propulsion. The advanced fuels and oxidizer projects are aimed at development and maturation of ingredients for the 2000-2005 timeframe, the high performance projects are aimed at systems that would enter EMD phase between 2005-2010. The new ingredients projects are aimed at identifiying and developing new ingredients that will give significantly greater performance for systems beyond the 2010 timeframe.

(U) The work on alternate propellant ingredients will have significant impacts upon spacelift capability. Significant payload increases are possible, greater than 20 percent when combined with other technology improvements. In addition, the work is striving to improve the hazards of the current propellants making them safer to handle and also working to improve the manufacturing of the propellants both of which will have impacts on the cost of the systems they go into.

(U) The High Energy Density Matter (HEDM) program provides revolutionary new chemical propellants for space launch and missile systems. Significant increases in propellant performance would cut the costs of placing mission payloads in space, and allow for increases in range and velocity of missiles. For these reasons, High Energy Density Matter is one of the DOD's Critical Technologies.

(U) Hydrazine substitutes are under development through NASA-Lewis for the Integrated High Payoff Rocket Propulsion Technology program (IHPRPT) Phase I. The IHPRPT spacecraft propellant program also continues to develop even higher performing monopropellants for demonstration in 2005 and 2010. USAF Phillips Laboratory is the propellant synthesis and formulation lead agency for this effort (in coordination with NASA-Lewis). Current work at this laboratory is focused on identifying high energy ingredients and developing lower toxicity monopropellant formulations for IHPRPT Phase II and III. These formulations are based on high density, low melting point, ionic solutions.

(U) Work is developing between Phillips Lab and NASA in the area of strained ring hydrocarbon HEDM compounds as additives to RP-1 for use in low costs boosters. This builds upon previous work done by Phillips Lab over the last couple of years.

(U) Other work includes development of advanced storable oxidizers and replacements for hydrazine. These propellants have application to upperstage and satellite propulsion systems reducing the hazards and operational costs. The oxidizers also have potential for use with tactical hybrid rocket engines. The propellants generally have a lower performance than hydrazine but have a higher density allowing more to be packaged in the same volume. They are also much safer than hydrazine.

(U) In the cryogenic solid propellant area, several accomplishments of note have been made. Cryogenic solid propellants, either solid hydrogen or solid oxygen, offer improvements over liquid cryogenic propellants through increased density and by providing a packaging mechanism for HEDM species. The HEDM program has demonstrated the feasibility of storing energetic additives in solid hydrogen. The program has developed significantly in doping solid hydrogen with additives to increase performance.

User Impact (U):

(U) None.

Programmatics (U):

(U) Concept/Technology.

Images (U):

(U) None.

Related Initiatives (U): None.

Related Requirements (U): None.

Related Categories (U):
Boost & Orbit Transfer TechBoost and Orbit Transfer Propulsion Technology
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

(U) None.

Lead Office (U):

Air Force.

Point of Contact (U):

(U) National Security Space Road Map Team, NSSA, Open Phone: (703) 808-6040, DSN 898-6040.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 15 July 1997


(U) For comments/suggestions contact: Office of the National Security Space Architect (NSSA), 571-432-1300.

(U) Road Map Production Date: 23 June 2001

The effects of any budget/program decisions made since the information was collected during 1997-98 are NOT reflected in the National Security Space Road Map (NSSRM).