Part I : 1945 - 1950

3. Hydrogen-Oxygen for a Navy Satellite



Fading Interest in Hydrogen-Oxygen


[56] The successful results at Ohio State University, Aerojet General Corporation, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory with liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen for rocket engines in the late 1940s had little effect on the higher levels of the Air Force and Navy. In late 1948, Harvey Hall and his colleagues at the Bureau of Aeronautics attempted to maintain the Navy satellite program by proposing a reconfigured HATV as a superperformance sounding rocket to obtain information on the upper atmosphere. The proposal, backed by a detailed engineering report by the Glenn L. Martin Company, was made to the NACA Subcommittee on the Upper Atmosphere and to the Geophysical Sciences Committee of the Research and Development Board. The NACA subcommittee endorsed it-but it was only moral support, for the NACA had no funds for such work. The Geophysical Sciences Committee simply listened and took no formal action. This last-ditch effort was essentially the end of the Bureau of Aeronautics struggle for a high altitude test vehicle.35


In 1949, the Air Force again considered satellites for military operations and directed RAND to resume satellite studies. By the end of the year, Ohio State University was the only laboratory engaged in experimental investigations of liquid hydrogen for rockets, and there William Doyle had switched emphasis from hydrogenoxygen to hydrogen-fluorine. The Ohio State hydrogen investigations in rockets ended in 1951.