6
$\begingroup$

The HIBEX rocket was a precursor to the Sprint missile system deployed briefly back in the 1970s. The rocket was only 18 feet long but had extraordinary performance(an acceleration of 100 G's!). But I can't find any data on what the airframe used for it was since it would need metal with a very high melting point/low heat conductivity but also very lightweight. So if a team of amateurs with enough money and welding experience got together I see no reason they could build a small rocket like that and use HIBEX fuel. Though launching it might be tricky....

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ Technically this question should be closed with the "Amateur rocketers - DONTDOTHIS" tag, but I do find it fascinating ( ", Captain") $\endgroup$ Jul 31 '20 at 10:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OP doesn’t seem to be asking for help to blow themselves up, which I believe is our dividing line. $\endgroup$ Jul 31 '20 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ I'd also say that giving out information that a teenager could use to blow themselves up is also under the ban, even if the asker doesn't intend to blow themselves up. However, this question doesn't seem to fit that criterion, either. (What teenager is going to get HIBEX propellant?) $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Jul 31 '20 at 17:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon you do realize that the knowledge is only half the battle, you need the MATERIALS to actually do it with. Those materials are tightly controlled. I realize that questions about homemade propellant are not permitted here and I didn't go into any details about that. $\endgroup$
    – Mr X
    Aug 1 '20 at 5:19
  • $\begingroup$ That's exactly what I meant. There are some questions which are dangerous because they describe how to use readily-available materials to do something dangerous. This question is not dangerous because the materials involved are not readily available. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Aug 1 '20 at 5:48
13
$\begingroup$

According to Wikipedia,

HIBEX employed a star-grain "composite modified double-base propellant", known as FDN-80, created from the mixing of ammonium perchlorate, aluminum, and double-base smokeless powder, with zirconium staples "randomly dispersed" throughout the matrix.

APCP (ammonium perchlorate composite propellant) is occasionally used in high powered amateur rocketry and isn't vastly different from the HIBEX propellant in composition. The high acceleration of HIBEX is more due to the physical grain of the propellant being arranged for maximum burn rate, combined with the ratio of engine size to payload size, than anything particular about the propellant.

Somewhat surprisingly, APCP use in amateur rocketry isn't directly government-regulated -- the hobby organizations work with chemical vendors (who are definitely government-regulated) to control sales.

Apart from time-to-speed and time-to-altitude records there's not much point in going for very high initial accelerations if you aren't trying to stop an incoming ICBM. You waste a lot of energy trying to push air out of your way.

To withstand the extreme heating, by the way, the Sprint missile used an ablative coating that would simply burn away in flight, carrying heat with it to protect the airframe beneath.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If I put zirconium staples in my breakfast, will I also get going faster? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jul 31 '20 at 6:41
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh No, but if you put ExLax in, you will! $\endgroup$ Jul 31 '20 at 10:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Some years ago, the ATF actually tried to classify APCP as an explosive. The amateur organizations took them to court over it and won after a 9 year court battle, on the grounds that APCP wasn't sufficiently explosive to meet the ATF's definition of an explosive. $\endgroup$
    – lwr
    Aug 1 '20 at 3:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh you might get going even faster if you put Sodium metal staples in there! $\endgroup$
    – Mr X
    Aug 1 '20 at 5:16
6
$\begingroup$

"Yes", but that would sort of be silly and it would highly depend on where you live, since it may be illegal in your country to mix your own rocket propellant. HIBEX used what is essentially a precursor to modern APCP (Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant), which is widely used in amateur rocketry and commercially available. Its propellant included Ammonium Perchlorate, Aluminum, Ballistite (powdered nitroglycerine, basically) and zirconium. Both the Aluminum and the zirconium were basically fuels.

It is legal in the US to make your own rocket fuel, and none of the components of HIBEX fuel are illegal per se. However, a commercially available fuel is probably a much better choice. For the record, APCP was used in the space shuttle solid boosters.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ I was so hoping it was safe storables... $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Jul 31 '20 at 1:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.