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RD-119 -

Credit: © Mark Wade. 29,238 bytes. 280 x 421 pixels.

Oxidiser: LOX. Oxidiser Density: 1.14 g/cc. Oxidiser Freezing Point: -219.00 deg C. Oxidiser Boiling Point: -183.00 deg C.

Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. Liquid oxygen, as normally supplied, is of 99.5 percent purity and is covered in the United States by Military Specification MIL-P-25508. High purity liquid oxygen has a light blue colour and is transparent. It has no characteristic odour. Liquid oxygen does not burn, but will support combustion vigorously. The liquid is stable; however, mixtures of fuel and liquid oxygen are shock-sensitive. Gaseous oxygen can form mixtures with fuel vapours that can be exploded by static electricity, electric spark, or flame. Liquid oxygen is obtained from air by fractional distillation. The 1959 United. States production of high-purity oxygen was estimated at nearly 2 million tonnes. The cost of liquid oxygen, at that time, ex-works, was $ 0.04 per kg. By the 1980's NASA was paying $ 0.08 per kg.

Fuel: UDMH. Fuel Density: 0.79 g/cc. Fuel Freezing Point: -57.00 deg C. Fuel Boiling Point: 63.00 deg C.

Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine ((CH3)2NNH2) became the storable liquid fuel of choice by the mid-1950's. Development of UDMH in the Soviet Union began in 1949. It is used in virtually all storable liquid rocket engines except for some orbital manoeuvring engines in the United States, where MMH has been preferred due to a slightly higher density and performance. Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) is 98 to 99 per cent pure and is described by Military Specification MIL-D-25604. The normally expected impurities are dimethylamine and water. UDMH is a clear, hygroscopic liquid which yellows on exposure to air. It absorbs oxygen and carbon dioxide. UDMH is a toxic volatile liquid. It exhibits the sharp ammoniacal or fishy odour which is characteristic of organic amines. It is completely miscible with water, ethanol, and most petroleum fuels. It is not shock sensitive. The vapours are flammable in air over 2.5 to 95 per cent concentration range. UDMH can be produced commercially by nitrosation of dimethylamine, to N-nitro-sodimethylrtmine, followed by reduction of the intermediate to UDMH and subsequent purification. UDMH can be prepared, also, by a modification of the Raschig process (see discussion of hydrazine), in which the chloramine intermediate is with dimethylamine rather than with ammonia. The price in 1959 for tank-car quantities was under $ 1.00 per kg. Engineering studies indicated a price of $ 1.00 per kg with large scale sustained production. But due to its toxic nature, production and transport costs soared in response to environmental regulations. By the 1980's NASA was paying $ 24.00 per kg.

Engines Using Lox/UDMH

Eng-engineslink Thrust(vac)-kgf Thrust(vac)-kN Isp-sec Isp (sea level)-sec Designed for Status
RD-109 10,360 101.60 334   Upper Stages Developed 1957-60
RD-119 10,710 105.50 352 220 Upper Stages Out of Production
RD-112 111,047 1,089.00 344 304 First Stages Developed 1960
RD-113 116,044 1,138.00 360   Upper Stages Developed 1960
RD-114 168,559 1,653.00 341 307 First Stages Developed 1961-65
RD-115 176,003 1,726.00 357   Upper Stages Developed 1961-65

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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .