Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants
Ignition! is the story of the search for a rocket propellant which could be trusted to t ...more
And with conversations between chemists like these:
“Joe? You know that stuff you sent me to test for thermal stability? Well, first, it hasn’t got any. Second, you owe me a new bomb, a new Wianco pickup, a new stirrer, and maybe a few more things I’ll think of later. And third (crescendo and fortissimo) you’ll have a coupl ...more
Parts become a bit dry in the latter half, as the basic science converges more and more on a few optimal fuels. As implied by the title, you won't hear very much about solid fuels or hydroge ...more
The topic is the development of liquid rocket propellants (fuels, oxidizers, and monopropellants) roughly 1940 - 1970. This was a large intensive chemical-engineering effort. Rocket propellants have a remarkably wide range of design constraints, some of which I would never have thought of on my own. They have to be high-energy compounds that can be reliably lit, but that are safe to store (sometimes f ...more
It is astonishing that the book is so popular considering how technical it is. I am not a chemist and a rather slow mathematician, so a lot of the book was inaccessible to me. However, why people read it is for the other part, the snarky, candid, and fascinating look into the "Wild West" days of rocket propellant development from ...more
So if you can read the following random page from the book and then think...."I'll be happy to do that 200 times more"......then you're in for a treat....otherwise 3-stars.
"Then as O2 is essentially insoluble in nitric acid, it bubbles out of it and the pressure builds up and your acid turns red from the NO2. What t ...more
oh btw while Dr. Clark makes some wild claims about toxicity of hydrazine and trifluoromethyl grou ...more
At the dawn of the 20th Century humans around the globe -- in Russia, Germany, England, the United States and China -- dreamed of firing rockets into space. Initially unaware of each other, their efforts pursued similar paths. And by the middle of the century there was a consensus: a rocket engine fu ...more
You should ideally remember your high-school chemistry if you want to follow along with the book. While the book wasn't meant as management guide, I found some interesting lessons about managing innovation from it:
1. Competition (in this case, the Cold War between the US and USSR) drives innovation. It's a good idea to ...more
* author was directly involved in the development of almost all compounds he's talking about
* I liked that the stories are very detailed: e.g. answered why research on some propellant started, what particular problems were encountered, which solutions were tried and why most of them failed
* a lot about practical issues of handling various oxidizers/fuels, l ...more
So glad this is back in print rather than being hundreds of dollars for a used copy (or with a PDF b ...more
Unfortunately, t ...more
The text reads quite well for ...more
Any history of science book with a forward written by Isaac Asimov is going on my list, and this one was recommended by a few posters on Reddit.
The story Clark tells is a fascinating one, and he chronicles the long development of rocket fuels in extreme (if academic) detail. Those unschooled in advanced chemistry like myself will find much of the book is over their heads, in terms of the specific compounds and th ...more
Clark, John D. Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2017. With forward by Isaac Asimov. Original edition 1972.
This is a snarky historical account of the development of rocket fuels, post-World War II, by one of the participants. On the way, the author explains how one evaluates a rocket and what makes a good rocket fuel. A fair bit of basic chemistry and physics is required to follow the book.
The account is b...more