Encyclopedia Astronautica

XCOR Nitrous oxide/Alcohol rocket engine. 0.220 kN. First stages. Hardware. Regeneratively cooled engine using nitrous oxide and isopropyl alcohol as propellants.

The XCOR XR3B4 regeneratively cooled engine was capable of 220 newtons thrust, using nitrous oxide and isopropyl alcohol as propellants. This engine had completed 216 runs with a cumulative burn time of more than 812 seconds. XCOR designed this engine for use as a maneuvering thruster on spacecraft.

Application: First stages.

Status: Hardware.
Thrust: 220 N (40 lbf).
First Launch: 2000-2004.

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Associated Propellants
  • Nitrous oxide/Alcohol Nitrous oxide has advantages as a rocket engine oxidizer in that it is non-toxic, stable at room temperature, easy to store and relatively safe to carry on a flight. Its disadvantage is that it must be stored as a gas, which make it more bulky than liquid oxidizers. Early storable rocket systems sought to improve ignition characteristics and perforamance by eliminating the kerosene portion of the fuel. Alcohol (C2H5OH) was the fuel used for the German V-2 rocket, and the first derivative rocket engines in the United States, Soviet Union, and China used it as well. Better performance was achieved by increasing the alcohol concentration in the post-war engines. But after better-performance rocket-grade kerosene was developed by Rocketdyne in the REAP program of 1953, use of alcohol was abandoned. More...

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