Green Rocket Fuels – Safer & Better Than Hydrazine (as if that’s hard)

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The recent Electron rocket launch included a couple of previously undisclosed payloads – a satellite called “The Humanity Star” which is like a space disco ball designed to be easy to see from the ground. The second payload is an upper stage using a ‘green’ rocket fuel which extends the capabilities of the launch vehicle.

So let’s talk about the technology behind green rocket fuel research.

Of you can just listen to this fine selection of space themed music:
Space Disco Music

  1. Slashfic

    Can we get a follow up video when they release details of the fuel?

  2. waares

    loving the vid scott

  3. waares

    89 days till i see the humanity star !

  4. chricton J

    Did you know (most likely you do) that the game “Osiris: New Dawn” has the player make Hydrazine using a 2:1 ratio of Hydrogen to Nitrogen. Risky business for someone trying to survive.

  5. IT-kone

    0:43 Disco in space: Meco – Music Inspired by Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk, also an interesting one is Instant Funk – Dark Vader.

  6. Black Ace

    Is that a MIB reference in the thumbnail?

  7. Bruman

    Love the Men in Black reference in the thumbnail

  8. Thomas Oltarzewski

    Got an ad for Frank’s Red Hot sauce before this, how would that perform as a rocket fuel?

  9. Lachlan Raidal

    Why aren’t arc jets used more often?

  10. Luke Bushby

    This is still a positive however it is not for its environmental effects.
    The vehicle will be out of the atmosphere by the time it is fired.
    it wont positively effect us down on earth other than helping the easing the fueling process.

  11. Cartoonman154

    isn’t the footage at 2:01 hydroperoxide and gasolene?

  12. Christopher Brennan

    I just watched that NASA video on Hydrazine today. Weird.

  13. AngelLestat2

    in my opinion all monopropellants are stupid.
    rockets and spaceship should work with the same fuel and oxidant, this include main engines and thrusters.
    There are many studies showing that you can fire (ignite) microthrusters using bipropellant in miliseconds using lasers with a 99,98% of success.
    This reduce the need to have special tanks for thrusters and you can use your main tanks, this way you can also have the choice to use more control thrusters or main engines in case you need.

  14. Azimech_ 77 Industries

    I feel like making a mod where you need electrical power to heat the catalyst, prior to be able to use RCS. I think the RSS guys might like that.

  15. Alex Boardman

    Lmao. The Men in Black reference. Love it

  16. PastorVor

    I don’t understand. Are you Scott Manley, only “until then”?
    Great Show! Thanks!

  17. TheTooginator

    I’m not only having fun, but I’m learning a lot of interesting chemistry and physics from Scott Manley’s videos. Cool!

  18. Nikola Tatarevic

    Hi Scott, could you do a video about ascent and landing profiles and how they are calculated for atmospheric and vacuum launches/landings? I think this would be a great video in your series of “Things that KSP doesn’t teach”.

  19. James Turner

    I get the Will Smith MIB reference.

  20. Hat Man

    Scott Manley: My first source for all space related news

  21. Rex Fariss

    Here is a kerbal challenge for y’all: Build a lifting body aircraft.

  22. MrYellow

    can’t see shit in England, Manchester its either cloud or to bright to see anything

  23. Fabi33677

    i love these vids where you explain rocket science

  24. Colin Campbell

    When I hear the phrase ‘stabilize it’s explosive tendencies’ – I don’t associate it with ‘safe.’

  25. Spear995

    I see that MIB reference in the thumbnail.

  26. Lex Pox

    I have to say I love your outro? music!

  27. youkofoxy

    you are saying that scientists are working on greener Fuels rockets mostly to avoid expenses on good pairs of running shoes?

  28. atptourfan

    Of course that was F9R-dev that auto-terminated, not Grasshopper. Thx for this great video.

  29. Arcangel Ortiz

    I’m sure you were joking, but I wouldn’t mind seeing that music playlist of yours.

  30. infotron

    and i thought hydrazine was just the rocket fuel for astroneer

  31. Chris Marvin

    I actually wrote a research proposal on how environmentally friendly these “green” rocket fuels are as a part of my Ph.D. in chemistry.

  32. Zarius

    0:46 The Netherlands ain’t on that map?

  33. Stan Burton

    what if you used an aluminum/magnesium powder/oil slurry and hydrogen peroxide? not a monopropellant but the density of the aluminum/magnesium reacting with the oxygen in the peroxide would certainly up the specific impulse wouldnt it?

  34. Paul R

    I remember working on rocket engines that decomposed hydrazine, they were heated on the inside as shown in the video and made from a refractory metal such as moly and I coated them with tungsten powder using a plasma torch. Was done with a vacuum plasma system that I designed and built. I could quite easily design another system if someone wanted to pay me to do it. I’m just not physically capable of doing all of the physical work as I once was so I would need a helper that knows how to weld and use a torq wrench, and pull wires, hoses, etc. Basically I need a grunt to do the hard work or more to get the project done faster, as I have a bad back.

  35. ryuail

    I spy… a lovely science fiction novel. I love the PERN novels. :)

  36. Justin Michrina

    If you only have 1 fuel controlled by 1 valve, would there be a greater risk of catastrophic explosions from flame fronts going the wrong way (like HHO without a bubbler)?

  37. DKTAz00

    Electronic, Supersonic, Prepare for downcount!

  38. 322997am

    How clean is methalox in terms of cleanliness? The gas is pretty harmless and the products are also pretty harmless

  39. Gordon Lawrence

    Azidoazideazide (bet I spelled it wrong) = rocket fuel for loonies.

  40. Kokoro Kimochi

    wasn’t Prospero an orbital disco ball?

  41. Harold Weaver Smith

    I’ve always wondered if there would be an advantage in using HTP+kerosene in a spacecraft as both high-thrust main engine and low-thrust maneuvering jets. You use the HTP as a low-efficiency but very controllable monopropellant in the maneuvering engines by passing it over a platinum catalyst, and use the same stock of HTP, plus post-catalyst kerosene injection to get lots more thrust in the main engine. Thoughts?

  42. FiddleSticks

    That MIB reference in the thumbnail 😂😂😂

  43. masterimbecile

    Dat Men In Black reference in the thumbnail tho.

  44. Cameron Rose

    Thanks Scott, your videos are such an enriching part of my day

  45. fkreller1

    “Happily corrode” I’m going to have to use that in conversation somehow. :-)

  46. Ebber

    Old tech and being incredibly dangerous.
    Name a better duo.

  47. Albertho Osorio

    I just comeback to tell you, that sci disco playlist it´s hot like a supernova

  48. Lazarus Long

    That first slide at five minutes in, “Computer rendering, not man in bunny suit!” SO much PowerPoint going on there…

  49. Erzgebirge erleben

    Whats up monoprop?! Why are you so toxic today? :-) Nice Vid. Thanks

  50. Kai

    Are you thunerf00t now?

  51. warwolf 102

    Oh my god— That’s a Gozanti Class Cruiser from X Wing on the shelf. Great test in Epic Ships.

  52. Sprinkles

    Wishing I had a photographic memory listening to this whilst I stamp out these waffles in the production line.

  53. Brian Cox

    Sounds like John D. Clark’s Ignition! is going to need a second edition.

  54. Jacques Senet-larson

    All bow before the altar of legacy systems -_-

  55. Sagittarius Ion

    As always an amazing video keep up the great work

  56. Bernhard Jordan

    LMP-103S sounds like a McClaren car

  57. Zak Unknown

    I have been watching your channel since early ksp. I really like what you do

  58. 257 Shooter

    I worked at the test lab at Aerojet Redmond. I spent a year on GPIM. I worked some of the sea level catalyst tests. I worked the protoflight tests and the flight hardware tests. It was interesting work. I would rather work with AFM315E than hydrazine.

  59. Lapantouflemagic0

    Just to make sure i’m not missing something : we’re talking about rocket fuel for satellites right ? i don’t htink you can make any greener than the usual cryogenic O2 / H2 fuel, but it is only for rockets because it can’t stay liquid-cold forever in a satellite, am i correct ?

  60. Doug Gwyn

    Way back when, some of us used Ethylene Oxide as a monopropellant. It remains liquid in a conventional freezer but boils at room temperature, so with proper design can be self-pumping. Ethylene Oxide also has been used on deep-space probes to kill off biological agents before launch, to prevent contaminating whatever the probe might come in contact with.

  61. Nikola Tasev

    It would have been nice to include links to those wiki articles in the video description…

  62. Pyrus Rex

    The moment I recognized the old Air Force footage about hypergolic propellant handling edited in, I realized I am a true space geek.

  63. Charles Motisi

    That’s either an MIB reference or i’m just a nerd. Anyway, Great video as always! Thank you!

  64. Sam Fisk

    “The Humanity Star has the highest chance of visibility in in 23 days. It will last about 2 minutes.”

  65. TheBlobik

    When Scotts starts talking about hydrazine still being used cause the rocket industry is conservative and you realize, that one of the first uses for hydrazine was as fuel for rockets and rocket planes… built by nazi Germany.
    …do we really need to wait for another Wernher von Braun for the space innovation to really boom again?

  66. Josh Kaufman

    @6:46 “infusion mission” to launch on the 2nd Falcon Heavy”
    did this happen yesterday, or did they send it up on something else when the launch was moved back?

  67. Gregory W. Moore

    Nitrogen Tetroxide and Aerozine 50 were used in all Titan II,s Same with the attitude and maneuvering thrusters in Gemini and Apollo, as well as the shuttle.
    If handled properly, they are as safe as any hypergolic combination of fuels can be.
    Check out the Damascus AR incident. Started with Propellant teams using wrong tools, and ended with both Titan stages exploding in the silo. The warhead was thrown clear and busted up but it was recoverable.

  68. Jacob Lomas

    I’m a 7th grader and had a project that had to be based around sustainability. I chose hydrazine as my topic! This was a great reference and good help, thanks!

  69. 4IN14094

    Sooooo does this means Mark Watney won’t be converting Hydrazine to make water?

  70. burningSHADOW42

    Could you do an episode about the Aerospike Engine?

  71. Jef Pauwels

    5:22 “Savings from being able to cut down on safety features”. That’s how I like to play KSP.

  72. Chris Henniker

    A few drag racers experimented with hydrazine back in the 1960s. Just imagine being run through a Chrysler Hemi on open headers, the GG Allin of race fuels.

  73. NeedsMoreBoosters

    Hydrogen peroxide also likes to decompose, especially with any light, even without catalysts, and burning water and oxygen doesn’t tend to work well. Another reason why it isn’t great.

  74. Colin Paddock

    Greener than hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide is a pretty low bar.

  75. Nick Edgington

    As I recall Decaborane is also technical green at least it burns that way

  76. B. Eder

    Solid Rockets avoid many of these problems. The Guidance System adjust the flight path.

  77. Mike Chambers

    Yeah, hydrogen peroxide is all warm and fuzzy at 3% from the drug store. 30% is a different story altogether. 90% is just insane.

  78. Sander Datema

  79. Top 4ce

    Back in my day, rocket fuel killed us, it makes into what we are. You know, dead.

  80. hvymtal

    Anything is safer than hydrazine
    Shooting a Ross Rifle with the bolt reassembled incorrectly is safer than Hydrazine
    Doing dank whoolies on a motorcycle on ice in your undies is safer then Hydrazine
    Dropping a lit match into a flamethrower fuel tank is safer than Hydrazine. Yes that’s getting close, but _that_ is what you have to do to get close

  81. countertony

    TBH even if the ‘green’ monoprop was somewhat less performant in terms of ISP than hydrazine, it might well still be better given safety/health/environment win – after all, rocket business is the product of rocket science and rocket economics :D

  82. Nathanael Vetters

    You want green rocket fuel?
    Put some Kerbals in a blender.

  83. ChipterLP

    I thought this was a thunderf00t video when I saw the title, I love this content

  84. Cody's Dab

    I got my own Lego Saturn V yesterday for my bday, had the best evening building it, such an amazing set, took my son through the Lunar landings step by step with it, everyone should get one!

  85. ⵉⵜⵔⵓⵏⴰⵓⵜ

    The more toxic the fuel/oxidizer the more bad ass the rocket is.
    I’m still waiting for the first fluorine rockets to be deployed.

  86. Alex Jones

    I love the transition this channel has made over the years, I started watching your KSP vids in 2010 mostly for the interesting space science tidbits that you sprinkled liberally throughout.
    Now that the things that you want to talk about have graduated beyond KSP, so have the videos graduated in to this actually quite hard science format – which I’m all for and seems much more your speed too.
    Thanks for your contributions over the years – I doubt I’d be considering applying to airbus D&S without your videos

  87. Edgewalker001

    Hydrogen peroxide is also one of the things the granulocytes in our immune system uses to horribly murder any hapless foreign bacteria they happen across… =p

  88. Matter Beam

    A very interesting selection of alternative monopropellants, thanks.
    What do you think of re-startable hybrid solid rocket fuels?

  89. LeCygneNoir

    I had an awkward moment reading the Swedish propellant documentation because “ADN” is “DNA” in french. For a moment I was like: “ROCKET FUEL IS PEEEOPLEEEE!”

  90. martinborgen

    I’m so happy this fuel was brought up! I’ve long been very proud of the fuel developed at Swedish Space Corporation, where I’ve worked (as a lowly IT grunt paid by the hour, but anyways)!

  91. Vekh Gaming

    All this talk about green and safe propellants kinda makes me want to make a rocket powered by the most insanely toxic and dangerous propellants possible.
    Anyone up for some Chlorine Trifluoride, Dioxygen Difluoride and Plutonium tripropellant rockets?

  92. Sparker

    I hope next time they send a disco ball streaming space disco music from Scott’s playlist.

  93. Dom Haanen

    I’m a simple Kiwi, I see Kiwi-technology being discussed, I upvote.

  94. Moe wasd

    Anybody who is at even a bit interested in rocket fuel should definitely read “Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants” by John D. Clark. Its available for free as a PDF and an amazingly fun read.

  95. Gordon Richardson

    Clarification: The nasty orange chemical at 02:00 is nitrogen tetroxide. Hydrazine is toxic, but is a clear colourless liquid.

  96. Ryan Thomas

    I was reading the wiki entry for the Electron and noticed the “undisclosed” green fuel for stage 3 with the Curie engine, and then you post this. This man knows what we want to know.

  97. Michael Hunter

    I feel bad for the Chinese who have hypergolic fueled rockets crash nearby villages and not have government authorities cordon it off and clean it up

  98. Thomas Maxfield

    Everything is greener than hydrazine Scott.

  99. Edmund Resor

    “tends to decompose when you look at it the wrong way”

  100. AerodeonThorne

    Maybe they don’t want to use hydroxyl ammonium nitrate because the chemical formula contains “OH NO”.

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