Science: New Rocket Fuel

To roar farther and faster, rockets need a super-fuel with more bounce to the ounce. Most such concoctions are too volatile to handle. Last week Bell Aircraft announced success in taming one of them—liquid fluorine—which might boost rocket—payloads 70%. That would be enough to orbit U.S. satellites considerably bigger than Russia's very heavy Sputnik III.

A rocket fuel combines a chemical that oxidizes and an ingredient that burns. The propulsive energy released is measured as "specific impulse." Present combinations, e.g., liquid oxygen and kerosene, have a specific impulse of about 245 Ibs. Using liquid fluorine as the oxidizer instead of liquid oxygen...

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