Los Alamos Novel Rocket Design Flight Tested

Rocket Launch: Whoosh! Bryce Tappan: In the
field of both rocket propellants and explosives, there’s this desire to get safer materials
and higher-energy materials. Typically when you look at something that’s high performance,
it’s not as safe a material. So what we’re trying to do is break that performance versus
sensitivity curve and make a rocket propellant that’s both very high energy and high-performance,
as well as very safe. The enabling technology that makes our propellant system both safer
and higher energy involves physically separating an energetic fuel material and a solid oxidizer.
Because the fuels are physically separated from the oxidizer, which is different from
a typical solid rocket propellant that has the fuel and the oxidizer intimately mixed,
then you can utilize higher-energy propellants. Three … Two … One … Zero! Whoosh! Most
of the project throughout the years that we’ve been working on it have been static rocket
tests, where we have a thrust stand and we’ll measure, say, the chamber pressure of that
rocket and the thrust that’s released as we burn it. And it was just the end that we wanted
to do a flight demonstration, which is also very good for collecting quantitative data,
looking at how fast the rocket will go, how far it will go. Bang! Whoosh! Our rockets
outperformed the commercial motor in primarily the thrust and velocity that was achieved.
We were able to at least double the velocity of the commercial rockets. Whoosh! Whoosh!
There’s two things that we would like to do with this rocket system right now. One is
scale up, go to larger motors, but also we’re looking to miniaturize, to explore all the
application space that we can. And one of the potential applications that requires high
safety is flying on very small satellites. So, if you could get a very small propellant
package that packed more punch, then that would be very advantageous. Once we saw that
successful launch go off, it was the culmination of a lot of years of research that — it was
very satisfying to see it fly and to have a completely successful launch.

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