Encyclopedia Astronautica
Lox/CH4


Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required.

Liquid oxygen, as normally supplied, is of 99.5 percent purity and is covered in the United States by Military Specification MIL-P-25508. High purity liquid oxygen has a light blue colour and is transparent. It has no characteristic odour. Liquid oxygen does not burn, but will support combustion vigorously. The liquid is stable; however, mixtures of fuel and liquid oxygen are shock-sensitive. Gaseous oxygen can form mixtures with fuel vapours that can be exploded by static electricity, electric spark, or flame. Liquid oxygen is obtained from air by fractional distillation. The 1959 United. States production of high-purity oxygen was estimated at nearly 2 million tonnes. The cost of liquid oxygen, at that time, ex-works, was $ 0.04 per kg. By the 1980's NASA was paying $ 0.08 per kg.

Liquid oxygen / methane.

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Associated Spacecraft
  • MEM American manned Mars lander. Study 1967. The Mars Excursion Module was designed by North American for the Marshall Spaceflight Center in an October 1966-August 1967 study. More...
  • HL-42 American manned spaceplane. Study 1997. The HL-42 was a reusable, lifting body manned spacecraft designed to be placed into low-Earth orbit by an expendable booster. More...

Associated Engines
  • XR3M9 XCOR Lox/CH4 rocket engine. 0.223 kN. First stages. Hardware. Methane-fueled engine allowing long-term on-orbit storage, higher density than hydrogen engines. Intended for use in reaction control systems and satellite maneuvering systems More...
  • XR5M12 XCOR Lox/CH4 rocket engine. 22.3 kN. First stages. Conceptual lox/methane rocket engine developed for a DARPA program through layout design phase, but never built. More...
  • XR5M15 XCOR Lox/CH4 rocket engine. 33.360 kN. First stages. Hardware. Prototype LOX/methane rocket engine developed as a stepping stone to NASA's original Orion manned spacecraft and return to the moon and manned mission to Mars plans. More...

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