A continued use for hydrocarbons is foreseen as a propellant for the lower stages of rocket vehicles. For the upper stages the hydrogen propellant may come from petroleum sources. Hydrocarbon lubricants may also be required in space vehicles because of their superior resistance to radiation damage. This same resistance suggests the use of hydrocarbons as heat-transfer fluids and as plastic and elastomeric materials of construction.

Finally it is suggested that hydrocarbons are ideal spacestorable reducing agents and that man may establish refueling stations on the moon or on Mars.


On prévoit que l'on continuera à se servir des hydrocarbures comme propergols pour les étages infé- rieurs des fusées. L'hydrogène nécessaire pour les étages supérieurs peut être fabriqué à partir du pétrole. Des lubrifiants d'origine pétrolière peuvent aussi être demandés pour les engins spatiaux à cause de leur haute résistance aux radiations. C'est cette même qualité de ré- sistance qui fait envisager l'utilisation des hydrocarbures comme caloporteurs et comme matériaux plastiques et élastomères pour la construction. Enfin l'idée se répand que les hydrocarbures sont parfaits comme agents ré- ducteurs pouvant être stockes dans l'espace et que l'homme pourrait installer des stations de ravitaillement dans la Lune ou dans Mars.


While petroleum products have many desirable attributes, the most attractive has been their low cost. This is due to the low cost of the raw material, relatively inexpensive processing and very easy transportation. But in considering the role of petroleum products in space applications, the cost factor becomes quite unimportant since the overall costs of these programs are orders of magnitude higher than that of the materials used therein. Therefore petroleum products must win their places in the space program by virtue of unique properties which fulfil1 an essential need and not because they may be cents or dollars per gallon cheaper than other materials.

This paper summarizes the present and probable future use of petroleum products as a rocket propellant. It compares hydrocarbons with other materials as space lubricants and as heat transfer fluids and indicates those properties where hydrocarbons excell. The paper also suggests possible applications of hydrocarbon polymeric and elastomeric materials of construction and finally suggests that hydrocarbons may fill a need for a space-storable reducing agent.

HYDROCARBON PROPELLANTS Petroleum derived fuels, usually of the kerosine type, have been widely used as a rocket propellant for many years. They have usually been paired with liquid oxygen in these applications. The Thor

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