By GEORGE HARRISON and DAVID LEEKINSAssociated PressA helium-based fuel injector system could make a helium-powered rocket launch feasible, a team of researchers said.
The system is being developed by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who are exploring how to make helium-oxygen propellants more stable in the atmosphere.
Using the new technology, the researchers said the rocket could be made to launch to lower altitudes, and would require only about 2 percent more fuel to achieve that goal.
“We think the idea is very interesting, but at the same time it’s a bit scary,” said the lead researcher, Paul L. Bouchard, an associate professor in the UC Santa Barbara Department of Aerospace Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“We have to be very careful because there are some things that we can’t do without this technology.
We just can’t use it without some kind of safety precautions.””
We can’t just inject helium into an oxidizer tank and then hope that it’s going to burn up,” Bouchar said.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into this.”
The scientists detailed their findings in a paper published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.
They hope to work with the U.S. Air Force and NASA to develop a commercialized version of their system.
The helium-fuel injector uses liquid helium as its oxidizer.
The researchers used a commercial liquid helium fuel in the first stage of the helium-laced rocket to create a new helium ion.
When the rocket was ignited, the helium ion separated from the rocket and was then transferred to a fuel tank for later use in a second rocket.
The new fuel injectors have to perform several different tasks to make them work, according to the researchers.
For one, the rocket has to be in the right orbit.
The injectors will need to perform this as well as inject helium to the engine before the rocket can reach orbit.
The injector will also have to ensure that the helium is in the correct amount for the altitude the rocket is attempting to reach.
That’s because it needs to keep the propellant in the proper amounts to be able to perform the launch.
The researchers will work with NASA to make sure the fuel is in perfect condition to be used in the new rocket.
The fuel is injected through an electrical valve that controls the amount of oxygen the injector needs to be pumping to achieve a certain altitude.
They said this valve is connected to a small, liquid oxygen tank.
“That tank is the only tank we can put helium in,” Boulard said.
“Once we’re done with that, it’s just like the oxygen tank in a plane is just going to get filled with oxygen and be empty,” he added.
“If we were to put the oxygen in that tank, it would be empty, and that’s just not going to happen.
If we put helium into that tank and that tank is filled, the tank will be full and the oxygen will be pumping, the engine will fire and the rocket will fly.”
The researchers said this is a critical step because this type of fuel injectator will only work in the upper atmosphere.
That means it would not be feasible to build an injector that could be launched from the ground.
“So what we’re trying to do is put in a new fuel that we think is safe, reliable, has a very high performance and doesn’t have any performance risk to the launch vehicle,” Bousart said.