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Re: Rocket Science



"Keith E. Brandt, M.D." wrote:
 > 
 > The topic is hypergolic propellents. The shuttle OMS and RCS utilize
 > monomethylhydrazine (MMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (n2o4), which, when mixed,
 > ignite producing thrust. I have not been able to discover (even from some
 > NASA folks) what the reaction product(s) of MMH + N2O4 is(are).

The nitrogen tetroxide is the oxidizer, so that the monomethylhydrazine
can burn in the vacuum of space.  MMH is a simple molecule, CH3-NH-NH2,
so I imagine that the combustion products are simply things like CO,
CO2, H2O, NH3, and other oxides of nitrogen (NO, NO2).

Perhaps the people at the White Sands Test Facility can give you more
details, since a web page of theirs proclaims that they are the world
experts on this type of propulsion:

   http://www.wstf.nasa.gov/prop/rd_sum.htm

 > Another curiosity on a similar topic is my shuttle toxicology book lists
 > both hydrazine and monomethylhydrazine as shuttle hazards. I can only find
 > references to the MMH being onboard. Anyone know if there really is
 > hydrazine present and what shuttle system it's used for?

My guess is that they are using the term "hydrazines" as a generic
term to encompass several related compounds.  When I looked up
monomethyl hydrazine in the toxicology reference PoisIndex, the
hydrazines are treated as a group with similar properties.  BTW,
PoisIndex also has information on the toxicity of nitrogen
tetroxide, as well as management of exposure to either substance.

I hope that helps.

John P. Toscano, Pharm.D.
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Minneapolis VA Medical Center
KB0ZEV, EN34js

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