Raytheon has developed an Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, designed to intercept an ICBM and destroy it through a collision. Here are some related links:
- Wikipedia page
- YouTube video about the project, possibly from Raytheon
- A compilation of hover test videos (pretty cool)
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 ;)