Rocket Boosters and Fuel

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Rocket Boosters and Fuel

Rocket Boosters: Down to the Atom

By Matthew Shtrahman

Rocket Fuel:The PropositionThe ProcessThe Payload

What fuel do rocket boosters use to gain all that thrust?

Liquid fueled rockets such as the Space Shuttle use liquid oxygen and hydrogen as fuel.

The oxidizers,or materials that combust, combine with the fuel to generate hot gas by adding energy to the system.

A popular solid fuel is ammonium perchlorate, a black powder that offers both fuel and an oxidizer in one material.

The Reaction:How an atomic chain reaction can escape Earth's gravity

Liquid and solid fuels both have advantages and disadvantages. While solid fuels offer oxidizers and propellant, it takes less energy to convert a liquid propellant into a gas, and is often more efficient.

The reactions that take place in the rocket boosters are combustion reactions. Oxygen and lots of heat are applied to fuels, and the energy that is released as a result is converted into the thrust required to break Earth's atmosphere.

This chemical reaction is assisted by the low boiling points of liquid oxygen and hydrogen. Due to the extremely low energy they possess, the state change requires little work.

The generation of energy through state change isn't unheard of. This method of energy production is utilized by turbines inside of large dams, as well as in fossil fuel plants that burn coal.

The rocket fuel thrust reaction can be compared to the nuclear fusion within the Sun-however, in the Sun's case, the energy released is light, not thrust.

Molecular Facts:Ammonium Perchlorate-Formula: NH4ClO4Molar Mass: 117.5 AU

Diagram Explanation:The purple area signifies the ignition charge, which triggers the combustion of the propellant upon detonation. The oxidizers mix in, and the gas is ejected from the bottom.

Works Cited-Olympic torch heads into space - (2013, November 7). Retrieved May 20, 2015, from


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