Raytheon has developed an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, designed to intercept an ICBM and destroy it through a collision. Here are some related links:

I'm curious about the propulsion system of the EKV itself.

I saw in a very early prototype what appeared to be reddish smoke, which makes me think that a monopropellant was used, on at least that specific test (hydrazine?). The size of the vehicle is very small, it appears to be relatively heavy, and while it is intended to be operated in a micro-gravity environment, in the hover tests it could maintain a hover for at least 15 seconds. The fuel/rockets must have a large ISP.

I believe the accuracy of starting/stopping the propulsion is critical to achieve the precise and accurate positioning needed for a collision. Perhaps not much fuel is needed during the "terminal phase", so perhaps the quantity of fuel isn't an issue.

What kind of propulsion system is on this vehicle? How does it manage to fire such short powerful bursts, and extinguish them just as fast?

As a bonus - do you think the hover-tests performed on the ground used different nozzles to account for the air pressure?

("collision-avoidance" tag added as an anti-tag ;)

  • $\begingroup$ My mind immediately goes to something I recently saw but can't remember exactly where ... a single solid rocket motor was housed inside a portion of the rocket, and valves/windows would open around the perimeter, allowing the thrust to be directionally controlled... $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ I also realize that I may be asking about something that is not available to the public. I will accept "best guess" answers, if that's even allowed. $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 22:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ different but related (and some more videos and helpful answers) Does this kill vehicle contains momentum wheels? Watch how it moves! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 22, 2023 at 23:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh thank you for the information! $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 1:20
  • $\begingroup$ Judging by the high number of ignitions and incredibly fast pulses i'd guess it's some hypergolic propellant. I think the orange gas is probably Nitrogen Tetroxide. Which means the fuel is most likely Hydrazine. $\endgroup$
    – Ocelotus
    Commented Nov 23, 2023 at 18:14


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