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From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 04:36:12 GMT

In article <t1ulfrldobp8ae@corp.supernews.com>,
Anthony Q. Bachler <cwhizard@no.spam.mail.socket.net> wrote:
>The problem with liquid rockets, is that I believe they require LOX, which
>was not exactly available in victorian times...

No, there are several other suitable oxidizers, notably nitric acid.  As I
recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War... had
anybody known how.
--
When failure is not an option, success  |  Henry Spencer   henry@spsystems.net
can get expensive.   -- Peter Stibrany  |      (aka henry@zoo.toronto.edu)




From: gherbert@gw.retro.com (George William Herbert)
Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: 26 Nov 2000 12:28:23 -0800

Henry Spencer <henry@spsystems.net> wrote:
>Anthony Q. Bachler <cwhizard@no.spam.mail.socket.net> wrote:
>>The problem with liquid rockets, is that I believe they require LOX, which
>>was not exactly available in victorian times...
>
>No, there are several other suitable oxidizers, notably nitric acid.  As I
>recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
>liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
>probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War... had
>anybody known how.

The problem with nitric acid, of course, is going to be materials
compatability... you can't assume that you'd know to inhibit it with
~1% HF, if HF was even available at the time (I don't know).

Turpentine would be easier than petroleum in that timeframe and is
hypergolic with nitric acid.  Given how much of a pain combustion
stability and ignition are to develop right even today, one would
assume that using hypergols would be a major priority in a 1800s
tech rocket program (either intentionally, or that's the only thing
which they'd be able to make work...).

The key problem is that the state of the art of materials technology
of the time precludes efficient pressure vessels for propellant
storage and limits what you can do with the rocket motor itself.
Regenerative cooling would be difficult, but ablative cooling
with say oak ablator would work.

The materials most likely in that time frame are wrought iron or
(by modern standards) low grade steel.  By the 1890s "30-ton steel"
was coming into common use in boilers but its manufacture and use
was still highly problematic: there were numerous problems reported
in the shipbuilding community, failure analysies, etc.  I have some
vintage editions of the various naval architecture societies transactions
and they clearly showed that there were serious problems manufacturing
and using the more advanced steels.  Importantly, riveting was still
the only method of joining sections, which leads to major structural
inefficiencies at joints compared to welding or composite structures.

The following is a rough parametric analysis; I haven't done a complete
design through on a tank, or rocket stage, with these technologies.

It would be hard to end up with tankage fractions much less than about
20% assuming 250 PSI chamber pressures, blowdown pressurization (which
is about all the technology would support then, or MTI which is still
tricky for us today...) those propellants, materials, and fabrication.
That's about twice as much as modern "low end" BDB tanks like I've been
researching.  Assuming rocket engines are equivalently heavier, a T/W
ratio of say 40:1 is about as high as you could go, so a zero-payload
rocket stage lifting off the ground would be about 3% engine, 81%
propellants, and 16% tanks.  Delta-V assuming moderate combustion
efficiency wouldn't practically be higher than about 1,500 m/s.
You could make a short range ballistic missile, but staging to
orbit would be on the far side of impractical.


-george william herbert
gherbert@retro.com





Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 21:44:32 GMT

In article <8vrrp7$nrp$1@gw.retro.com>,
George William Herbert <gherbert@gw.retro.com> wrote:
>>recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
>>liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
>>probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War...
>
>The problem with nitric acid, of course, is going to be materials
>compatability... you can't assume that you'd know to inhibit it with
>~1% HF, if HF was even available at the time (I don't know).

I'm not sure either.  But you can line your ground storage tanks with
glass, and simply accept that once you fuel the rocket, you've got to
launch promptly.  People were building operational acid/aniline missiles
well before the inhibition trick was discovered; the reason for the great
interest in inhibition was not that you just couldn't build the rockets
without it, but that having to fuel the things in the field before launch
was a tremendous pain for operational tactical missiles.

>Turpentine would be easier than petroleum in that timeframe and is
>hypergolic with nitric acid.

Good point, I'd forgotten about that possibility.

>Given how much of a pain combustion
>stability and ignition are to develop right even today, one would
>assume that using hypergols would be a major priority in a 1800s
>tech rocket program (either intentionally, or that's the only thing
>which they'd be able to make work...).

It certainly would simplify ignition, but you can always do brute-force
pyrotechnic ignition with an expendable igniter.

The effect on stability is not simple.  Hypergols are often *less* stable
than non-hypergols, because the instant reaction when the propellants
touch tends to blow them apart, delaying proper mixing and making the
process more sensitive to disturbances.

>The key problem is that the state of the art of materials technology
>of the time precludes efficient pressure vessels for propellant
>storage and limits what you can do with the rocket motor itself.

Agreed.  Much before the Civil War and you're in real trouble in that
department, but even then it would limit you.

>Regenerative cooling would be difficult, but ablative cooling
>with say oak ablator would work.

Or just aggressive curtain cooling.  (Goddard did not use regenerative
cooling.)

>It would be hard to end up with tankage fractions much less than about
>20% assuming 250 PSI chamber pressures, blowdown pressurization (which
>is about all the technology would support then, or MTI which is still
>tricky for us today...) those propellants, materials, and fabrication.

Hmm.  I wonder whether you could improve the situation by winding the
tanks and chamber with steel wire.  (Don't know what the start of the art
in wire was then, but wire is generally stronger than plate.)

>...Delta-V assuming moderate combustion
>efficiency wouldn't practically be higher than about 1,500 m/s.
>You could make a short range ballistic missile, but staging to
>orbit would be on the far side of impractical.

Yeah, you've really got to get the per-stage delta-V up a bit higher
before orbit becomes realistic.
--
When failure is not an option, success  |  Henry Spencer   henry@spsystems.net
can get expensive.   -- Peter Stibrany  |      (aka henry@zoo.toronto.edu)




Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 06:25:19 GMT

In article <3a256692.7618048@news.seanet.com>,
Derek Lyons <elde@hurricane.net> wrote:
>>recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
>>liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
>>probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War... had
>>anybody known how.
>
>Yah.  Steel for the engine bells would have been a bit of a bear to
>produce in suitable quantities for starters....

They were building steam locomotives, remember.  If you're willing to
settle for a relatively low-performance rocket, the materials don't have
to be all that great.  As George has already pointed out, lightweight
pressurized tanks are a bigger challenge.
--
When failure is not an option, success  |  Henry Spencer   henry@spsystems.net
can get expensive.   -- Peter Stibrany  |      (aka henry@zoo.toronto.edu)




Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Mon, 27 Nov 2000 21:16:06 GMT

In article <8vtimn$rjl$1@nntp.Stanford.EDU>,
Jonathan Stone <jonathan@DSG.Stanford.EDU> wrote:
>High-pressure hoses (for compounding) was a signficant challenge
>until the 20th century. I guess steering vanes sound more sensible?

Vanes, fluid injection, or possibly multiple engines and differential
throttling for thrust vectoring, I'd say.

Although you can do gimbaling without flexible plumbing if you build a
four-engine cluster and do things the way the British did their
peroxide/kerosene engines, with each engine gimbaling only on a single
axis and the propellants coming in along the axis.  That does involve
rotating seals, though, which you might prefer to avoid.
--
When failure is not an option, success  |  Henry Spencer   henry@spsystems.net
can get expensive.   -- Peter Stibrany  |      (aka henry@zoo.toronto.edu)




From: James A Davis <jimdavis2@primary.net>
Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 16:11:15 -0600

Henry Spencer wrote:

> As I
> recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
> liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
> probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War... had
> anybody known how.

High on the list of things not known at the time of the Civil War was
how to accelerate a flow to supersonic velocities in a nozzle. The
convergent-divergent nozzle was only discovered empirically about 1890
and was used in the reaction turbine. The theoretical foundations were
not understood until well into the 20th century.

Jim Davis




From: James A Davis <jimdavis2@primary.net>
Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 22:24:02 -0600

George William Herbert wrote:

> Really?  I could swear I saw bombardment rocket designs from
> the late 1700s and early 1800s which had venturis...
> Unfortunately, that specific area of history is not one
> I stock reference books for at home, so someone else
> will have to look it up and confirm or deny.

Willy Ley's standard reference "Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel"
describes the standard rocket manufacturing process (still in use today
for fireworks) in his chapter "The Rocket's Red Glare". There was a
constriction about two thirds the diameter of the rocket but it had
nothing to do with fluid dynamics - it was to provide mechanical support
to the powder as it was hammered into the cardboard tube.

In any event the cardboard tube would have been completely inadequate to
contain a combustion pressure sufficient to choke the constriction to
generate supersonic flow.

> They may not have understood the theory, but the basic idea
> of a supersonic nozzle can't have been completely unknown
> if that's true.

One of the things that Goddard discovered while experimenting with state
of the art rockets of the 1910s was that the very best of them had
efficiencies of about 1% - a specific impulse of about 25 seconds. One
of the reasons was that the "nozzles" used weren't very efficient.

Jim Davis




From: Tom Billings <itsd1@teleport.com>
Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 22:26:52 -0800

George William Herbert wrote:

> James A Davis  <jimdavis2@primary.net> wrote:
> >Henry Spencer wrote:
> >> As I
> >> recall, somebody once looked into this and concluded that a pressure-fed
> >> liquid-fuel rocket burning nitric acid and petroleum distillates could
> >> probably have been built at about the time of the US Civil War... had
> >> anybody known how.
> >
> >High on the list of things not known at the time of the Civil War was
> >how to accelerate a flow to supersonic velocities in a nozzle. The
> >convergent-divergent nozzle was only discovered empirically about 1890
> >and was used in the reaction turbine. The theoretical foundations were
> >not understood until well into the 20th century.
>
> Really?  I could swear I saw bombardment rocket designs from
> the late 1700s and early 1800s which had venturis...
> Unfortunately, that specific area of history is not one
> I stock reference books for at home, so someone else
> will have to look it up and confirm or deny.
>

The holes at the backs of some rockets did indeed look
like venturis to some extent.

However, they had more to do with packing the powder tightly
in a tube, and getting a good burning surface at the same time,
than with getting the gases out the rear faster.


>
> They may not have understood the theory, but the basic idea
> of a supersonic nozzle can't have been completely unknown
> if that's true.

Pierre DeLaval invented the nozzle named after him in 1876, IIRC,
to allow him to run a centrifugal cream seperator by steam power.
From that point onwards, Parsons developed it from before 1884
for today's sort of steam turbines, with many rows of blades forming
temporary nozzles at lower rotation speeds, instead of one row of
nozzles running at higher speeds.

The DeLaval nozzle was first consciously applied to rockets in an 1898
science journal article, in theory, by Tsiolkovsky. There was an attempt
to use them by a swedish inventor soon after.  The Definitive first use in
a continuing line of development over decades seems to have been that
of Robert Goddard, starting with his demonstrations in 1910-12 of its
use in a vacuum chamber, with the enhanced thrust that allowed.

Regards,

Tom Billings




Newsgroups: sci.space.tech
From: henry@spsystems.net (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Spaceflight without electricity?
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2000 20:25:23 GMT

In article <d8bV5.11742$vv2.294784@e420r-sjo3.usenetserver.com>,
Russell Crook  <russell.crook@canada.sun.com> wrote:
>> >...there are several other suitable oxidizers, notably nitric acid.
>
><snip oxidizer discussion - H2O2 another possibility via
>sulfuric acid and electrolysis?>

Conceivably...  The Merck Index says it's been known since 1818, although
it would appear that it was made only in very low concentrations until
early in the 20th century -- people thought high concentrations weren't
stable, because the extreme sensitivity to catalytic impurities wasn't
fully understood.  This one's pushing it.

>> The materials most likely in that time frame are wrought iron or
>> (by modern standards) low grade steel...
>
>Hmm... you seem to have missed a possibility; wrapping a relatively
>thin tank with a high strength fiber.
>No, not nylon, kevlar etc.  but ye olde silkworm silk, which
>was definitely available in quantity in that era, though pricey :-)

Interesting idea!

>From what I can find on the web, tensile strength of silk
>would be about the same as good quality wrought iron per
>unit area,  but at one sixth or so of the weight due to lower density.

You'll need a bit of resin to hold the silk in place and transfer loads
from fiber to fiber.  As with more modern composites, considering *just*
the fiber is misleading.  Still, it sounds like it might well give a
considerable improvement...  Neat!
--
When failure is not an option, success  |  Henry Spencer   henry@spsystems.net
can get expensive.   -- Peter Stibrany  |      (aka henry@zoo.toronto.edu)



 






































































































































































































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