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Greener Spaceflight?

In miles-per-gallon, spaceflight doesn't really match up. We're talking gallons per mile - thousands of gallons per mile. But there are benefits to getting things out beyond the atmosphere that make it worth pushing against this crazy gravity well.

NASA scientists have just conducted a test of a new rocket engine using methane, instead of hydrogen.

Liquid hydrogen fuel used by the space shuttle must be stored at a temperature of -252.9°C —only about 20 degrees above absolute zero! Liquid methane, on the other hand, can be stored at the much warmer and more convenient temperature of -161.6°C. That means methane fuel tanks wouldn't need as much insulation, making them lighter and viagra sales uk thus cheaper to launch. The tanks could also be smaller, because liquid methane is denser than liquid hydrogen, again saving money and weight.

Methane also gets high marks for human safety. While some rocket fuels are potentially toxic, "methane is what we call a green propellant," Tramel says. "You don't have to put on a HAZMAT suit to handle it like fuels used on many space vehicles."


Methane is also a fuel that appears to be readily found throughout the solar system. And even planets like Mars (the likeliest first step outside our own orbital band) which don't have ready supplies of frozen methane on the surface can provide the raw materials to produce methane from CO2 and hydrogen. Long range human flight programs may be preceded to their destinations by robot factories that will collect and process local methane in order to refuel the i want to buy cialis spacecraft for the return trip home.

via: Beyond the Beyond

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Comments (5)Add Comment
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methane?
written by Michael, May 15, 2007
isn't it a greenhouse gas?
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If we could mine farts
written by Celia, June 21, 2007
Hasn't NASA done damage to ozone layer already? Besides, anybody old enough to remember Challeger would appreciate an alernative. No offense to any involved in that.
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written by jrad, July 06, 2007
methane is easily reproducible and burns fairly cleanly, i believe, so it's still a candidate for a green gas. i think methane fuel cells were well into consideration as the next trend for a while, though i haven't heard much about it with hydrogen taking to forefront.

i'm pretty sure as far as starting fires, methane's somewhat safer, but this is webstuff.nl one of those things you don't wanna quote me on.
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written by jrad, July 06, 2007
right. so as far as my last comment, i forgot to add that methane is only safe when harvested and used as a fuel. it's a tremendously horrible greenhouse gas, but after burning, it's safe stuff. admittedly, it'll release some carbon dioxide after burning, but compared to the materials you'd have to manufacture for the actual craft and the amount of follow link dose cialis fuel needed, it's a safer trade-off.
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written by CHRIS J, March 15, 2008
I just watched this video about a biogeneticist who will produce within the year a CO2 eating algea that may excrete methane on an industrial scale. This could be very usefull on mars as well because there is also some dry ice that could be used to fuel spacecraft and habitats.

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