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[ABANDONED] Pernicious Propellants

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 2:29 pm
by Pythaga
Draft 1:
Description: @@NAMEINITIALS@@ASA's newest proposed orbital rocket, the @@ANIMAL@@ VI, has been facing harsh criticism for using the hypergolic propellant hydrazine in its upper stage. Hypergols are very effective fuels in some situations, but they are also quite dangerous and harmful to people and the environment. Crazed chemists, rowdy rocketeers, and heated hecklers have launched themselves into your office, demanding that you come up with a solution.

Validity: Has a space program.

Option 1: "What's wrong with hydrazine?" asks @@RANDOMNAME_1@@, chief scientist on the @@ANIMAL@@ VI program as @@HE@@ swooshes a model of the rocket in question a little too close to your face. "It is one of the most efficient fuels out there for in-orbit maneuvering, and it allows us to restart engines however many times we want without having to rely on a failure-prone ignition system. It may be slightly dangerous stuff, but many other nation's space programs have used it for decades with few problems, I have no reason to believe it'll be any different in @@NAME@@."
Effect: "because everyone else does it" is the main reasoning behind most government decisions

Option 2: "Are you out of your mind?" rages @@RANDOMNAME@@, head of the lobbying group @@DEMONYMPLURAL@@ Against Risky Rocketry as @@HE@@ grabs @@RANDOMNAME_1@@'s model and starts filing down the sharp edges. "Hypergolic fuels like hydrazine are incredibly dangerous! They're both extremely toxic and carcinogenic. And don't even get me started on the environmental impact if some were to leak out! Stick with the normal propellants we were using before; going to space is already dangerous enough, we don't need to add more fuel to the fire."
Effect: the nation's bubble wrap space suits are the laughing stock of @@REGION@@

Option 3: "Moving to hydrazine is a great improvement, but it's still not enough," urges @@RANDOMNAME@@, your Minister of Capability Comparison. "Dàguó is neck and neck with us in terms of space technology, we can't afford to give them an edge. The government must pour research funding into next generation cryogenic fuels—liquid hydrogen is more efficient than nearly anything else available, but we don't yet have the ability to properly store and harness it on long duration missions."
Effect: new hires at the nation's research labs often complain of the chilly reception

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:06 pm
by Electrum
I think the issue could be simpler and less confusing if you stick to either saying 'ban hydrazine' or 'ban hypergols'. This is probably coming from my perspective of knowing absolutely nothing about rocket fuels.

Option 1 - you need to explain more clearly what the benefits of hydrazine over non-hypergolic propellants. Is it just efficiency that's the problem? Why is efficiency so important? Make @@LEADER@@ care.

Option 2 - You've been pretty vague as to what are the environmental costs of hydrazine, both in the description and this option. Could you elaborate? I think you can also say 'Studies say...' or 'the evidence points to...' just to make it clear that the environmental impacts are credible.

Option 3 - What's so great about cryogenic fuels other than we're competing with Dàguó?

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 9:35 pm
by Trotterdam
A hypergolic fuel is one that spontaneously bursts into fire on contact with an oxidizer (technically, it's the combination of the two substances that's "hypergolic"). This lets you simplify your engine, since you don't need a separate ignition mechanism to light the stuff. Naturally, any component you can remove from your engine means less mass you need to launch into space, as well as fewer things that can break.

However, their energy content is often less than other fuels.

Most known hypergolic fuels are highly toxic, but there's no obvious reason they have to be. Though I suppose finding one that's hypergolic, non-toxic, and still contains enough energy to make orbit would be tricky.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2020 2:12 am
by Australian rePublic
Why would this issue end up on leaders desk? Very, very few national leaders would have the scientific knoweldge to deal with it

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:30 am
by Candlewhisper Archive
Right, space programs in general tend to have an environmental impact, the type of fuel used isn't the bulk of that impact. Having said that, the relative infrequency of rocket launches (compared to say airplane launches) downgrades the problem significantly.

I think the minutiae over which fuel has less carbon footprint or toxicity is too small scale an issue to reach a Leader's desk.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:25 pm
by Trotterdam
The biggest problem with toxic fuels probably isn't environmental damage, but rather occupational hazard to the engineers building the spacecraft. Still, that's a matter for the engineers, not politicians.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 1:39 pm
by Pythaga
Trotterdam wrote:The biggest problem with toxic fuels probably isn't environmental damage, but rather occupational hazard to the engineers building the spacecraft. Still, that's a matter for the engineers, not politicians.


Candlewhisper Archive wrote:Right, space programs in general tend to have an environmental impact, the type of fuel used isn't the bulk of that impact. Having said that, the relative infrequency of rocket launches (compared to say airplane launches) downgrades the problem significantly.

I think the minutiae over which fuel has less carbon footprint or toxicity is too small scale an issue to reach a Leader's desk.


Makes sense to me, I won't be perusing this one any further.