Science: Fuels for Space

What fuels do the Russians burn to make their Sputniks fly so fast? Wild rumors last week gave them credit for wonder-working superfuels. Not necessarily. Conventional rocket fuels such as kerosene and liquid oxygen, if skillfully used, could do the job. But superfuels are coming along—in both the U.S. and Russia.

Most people think of fuel as something that gives off heat when the carbon in it combines with oxygen from the air. Chemists have wider horizons. A fuel means any combination of substances that reacts chemically with a release of energy. The ingredient...

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