Burn, baby, burn!

Click on the picture to see a video of the rocket engine

Methane Blast – science.nasa.gov: Yes, no fart jokes here, just science.

On January 16, 2007, a dazzling blue flame blasted across the sands of the Mojave desert. In many respects, it looked like an ordinary rocket engine test, but this was different. While most NASA rockets are powered by liquid oxygen and hydrogen or solid chemicals, “we were testing a methane engine,” says project manager Terri Tramel of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

The main engine, built and fired by the NASA contractor team Alliant Techsystems/XCOR Aerospace, is still in an early stage of development and isn’t ready for space. But if the technology proves itself, methane engines like this one could eventually be key to deep space exploration.

Perhaps surprisingly, this flammable gas has never powered a spacecraft before. But now scientists and engineers at Marshall, the Glenn Research Center and the Johnson Space Center are developing LOX/methane engines as an option for the future. “Several efforts are underway, including a rival LOX/methane main engine design by KT Engineering,” notes Tramel.

  1. Mark T. says:

    You just don’t want to stand downwind, I suppose.

  2. hhopper says:

    Wow! That was impressive. No wonder people get burned lighting their farts.

  3. ECA says:

    considering that there is More methane on this planet in HARD form, its much easier to make and manufactour.

  4. Angel H. Wong says:

    Maybe they got an inspiration after watching a the kitchens of Chinese restaurants.

  5. Jägermeister says:

    Nice lighter…

  6. BubbaRay says:

    This is actually exciting from several perspectives, not the least of which is a manned mission to Mars. The Sabatier process to mfg. methane works well. Remaining problem is LOX — making that on the fly is tough (sorry for the pun.)

  7. Miguel says:


    These NASA rocket tests are awesome! I still remember when they were testing the Shuttle’s Solid Rocket Motors, man, those were so great!

    Have a look at a test of the new 5 segment SR motor. It’s identical to the ones the Shuttles use, but with one more segment, and they’re going to be used in the Orion/CEV.


  8. ECA says:

    well, I would think that breaking Methane down would create water and Ox… and a bit of Hydrogen.

  9. John Paradox says:

    Methane being CH4, you’d get water (added O2) and CO/CO2.


  10. KVolk says:

    Does it supply the same or more thrust as the current versions?

  11. tkane says:

    This is the kind of research stuff we need more of. Especially for propulsion systems. Things to make us go! Send more money to my friend Reginod.

  12. Maybe Megatron ate too many burritos.

  13. JPD says:

    Wow, after THAT, I think I need a cigarette.Yeah, baby!!!

  14. noname says:

    Must eat beans, more beans!

  15. josh mitchell says:

    if i were super rich i would spare no expence to make my trucks duel exhaust produce a flame like that!


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