Part I : 1945 - 1950

3. Hydrogen-Oxygen for a Navy Satellite



The Canright Report


[47] During changes in government R&D organizations and objectives in 1947, rocket analysts were looking beyond the merits of exhaust velocity in comparing propellants and focusing on the importance of propellant density and its influence on vehicle design and performance. Not satisfied with an analysis by von Braun, Hager, and Tschinkel in 1946 that placed considerable emphasis on propellant density, Richard Canright of JPL developed a method of comparing propellants for rockets of the V-2 class and larger with propellant masses 70 to 90 percent of initial vehicle mass. Equal total impulse (thrust time) was assumed; tank volume was adjusted to provide the necessary propellant in each case; and total vehicle mass was calculated. The vertical height attained by the rocket was the comparison criterion, which was almost the same as comparing initial masses.31


For large vehicles, Canright found that the exhaust velocity of propellant combinations was decidedly more important than propellant density and that emphasis on high energy propellants was justified. Although his analysis showed that [48] hydrogen was superior to any other fuel using the same oxidizer, Canright favored hydrazine, finding it favorable under all the conditions assumed.*


* On the basis of an attitude index of 100 for alcohol oxygen and a tank pressure of 20 atm, hydrogen-oxygen was 153, 21 units higher than hydrazine oxygen; the advantage of hydrogen increased if a lower tank pressure was assumed. In his initial calculations, Canright considered hydrazine fluorine, which he found superior to hydrogen oxygen. Later, however, Canright indicated that hydrogen fluorine should give the maximum range obtainable from chemical reactions.