12 thoughts on “Masten News”

  1. What little we have from Masten indicates it’s biprop and has a pretty respectable ISP for non-cryogenic liquid fuel. Everything I can find beyond that is speculation (mostly about peroxides and/or acids).

    1. The specific formulae for the two components would be interesting to know, but also, understandably, proprietary at this point.

      My curiosity, like that of most, I imagine, derives from wondering what the complications are that would face potential off-Earth manufacture of this stuff from in situ resources. Nitrogen, for example, is pretty hard to find extraterrestrially in quantity except in the Pluto system.

      One can certainly see the attraction of a simple-to-handle and non-toxic hypergolic bi-prop for use in maneuvering and station-keeping thrusters if for nothing else. Even if this stuff is never fated to be a big player for main propulsion plants – as with Masten’s proposed lunar lander – it could still find a significant niche market in the coming cis-lunar economy.

      If nitrogen is involved in any of this propellant combo’s chemistry, boosting liquid nitrogen from Earth might prove a durable fraction of future terrestrial space launch demand, especially for cheap brute lifters and/or reusable rockets getting into the iffy stage of their lifecycles.

      1. Do we know that the lunar volatile deposits do not have much nitrogen?

        If I had to guess about this propellant (and I have no direct knowledge of what it is), I’d wildly guess it’s peroxide and some organic fuel into which a peroxide decomposition catalyst is dissolved. For example, KMnO4 dissolves quite well in acetone. Metallocene compounds are another possibility.

        The presence of a consumable catalyst in the flow might change the color of the exhaust flame. Peroxide bipropellant engine flames are usually not very bright (due to lesser amounts of unoxidized carbon, which glows brightly).

  2. Don’t see information on specific impulse or energy per pound (or mole); be nice to see how it compares against H2/LOX. I understand that the hydrogen/oxygen chemical reactions is one of the most powerful know; be hard to top.

    1. Vast lacks in information are in the article. The isp won’t be anything like that of LHy/LOx, however. Anything with a heavy enough molecule to remain liquid at room temperature won’t have a high percentage of Hydrogen in it.

      There was one interesting visual indicator, though. That was the color of the exhaust stream. In the pics it’s bright orange. That means something is radiating at or near the wavelengths we would expect from carbon, with something to redden the average wavelength from the bright yellow we would see from 6000º carbon, …somehow. what that is can be interesting, but we have few other indicators. Masten is playing this close to their chest.

    2. For many applications, there are things more important than Isp alone. LH/LOX is the current king of Isp (barring some horrendous fluorine propellant combos) but being cryogenic, they’re not currently suited for long term missions. Apollo used hypergolics for the Service Module and Lunar Module because while they were toxic and corrosive, they were storable for long periods of time. LH/LOX would’ve had too much of the propellant boil off. That’s also why the Shuttle used hypergolic propellants for the OMS engines and attitude control thrusters that had to function on a mission that could last for up to 18 days.

      Masten has a new hypergolic propellant combination that’s much safer to handle. That allows them to design a vehicle that can function after several days from launch to landing and allows for frequent testing. There’s no information released about that combination’s specific impulse to compare its efficiency to nitrogen tetroxide/UDMH, though.

      1. They posted some performance info a while back on twitter:

        ” .@torybruno @NASAexplores Theoretical Isp:322s vs 336 for NTO”

        “@C_Alfaro Bipropellant- And fuel part is denser than MMH or UDMH, so there is an improvement in density Isp that may be gained”

  3. Very handy for experimentation, the non-toxic aspect is really a big deal for low-cost outdoor testing of new equipment. As everyone else, I wonder what the Isp is for this stuff?

  4. Sounds good if it’s all true. A lot of people have been working in this area for the past couple of decades. Still there is too much we still don’t know like the ISP or density or the actual handling characteristics. Most of the reports I read about this a couple years back were using HAN or similar molecules. HAN monoprop is supposed to be used in an STP-2 NASA payload scheduled to be launched on Falcon 9 Heavy this year but AFAIK it can also be used on a biprop similar to Hydrazine.

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