A side step? – Hydrolox Engines

1955 September 9, Illyrien Space Center, Prometheus Lounge
Wernher’s report at quarterly strategy meeting 

Wernher: “As you know, we completed the research earlier on the exciting new engine type, the Hydrolox engines, which burn hydrogen and oxygen. Itz extremely efficient with ISP’s above 400.

We took the rocket design for the moon orbiter, and tried replacing stages with a hydrolox engine and itz associated fuel. Just to see how the end result turned out. The good thing is that the 400 ISP meant that the rocket weight could be cut in half, if it was fully converted. Which is great! Unfortunately, it also cozt three times as much…

Converting the main stage, cut the weight massively, but at a high price. Converting the circulation, cost a little more,  but was surprisingly efficient. Converting the upper stages, well, that strangely did not do that much. For the simple reason, that upper stages require refrigeration and insulation, which weigh quite a lot.

One interesting find was, that even though the heavier hydrolox engine only has a thrust of about 667, due to its super high ISP, less fuel would be required, meaning it was not much of a problem. We did not avoid have to replace the engines one to one.”

Gene: So it was all a waste of time and science? Does it not have any use?

Wernher: “No no, research iz never a waste, this new type of engine has its uses, we just have to really zhink about how we use them. It cannot be for economy class missions, launching communication sats or ze like, it should be only when we need that extra punch or lower mass.”

Bill: “We can basically build tanks to hold the hydrogen as long as we are in LEO, but really not much further then that. It would be great, if we could test with a tank with max insulation and cooling”. Just to see determine the actual rate of loss, and to see if we can reduce it. Just like we are doing with liquid oxygen. Could also be interesting to see if the shape of the tank has an impact.



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