Aerozine 50 is a 50:50 mix by weight of hydrazine and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), originally developed in the late 1950s by Aerojet General Corporation as a storable, high-energy, hypergolic fuel for the Titan II ICBM rocket engines. Aerozine continues in wide use as a rocket fuel, typically with dinitrogen tetroxide as the oxidizer, with which it is hypergolic. Aerozine 50 is more stable than hydrazine alone, and has a higher density and boiling point than UDMH alone.
By mixing pure hydrazine with UDMH, hydrazine's inconveniently high freezing point of 2 °C is lowered through freezing point depression. In addition, UDMH is a more stable molecule; this reduces the chances of straight hydrazine decomposing unexpectedly, increasing safety and allowing the blend to be used as a coolant in regeneratively cooled engines.
Hydrazine may also be mixed with monomethyl hydrazine (MMH). Because MMH is slightly denser, net performance is increased slightly.
This type of fuel is mainly used for interplanetary probes and spacecraft propulsion. Unlike other more common propellants like liquid oxygen or liquid hydrogen, Aerozine 50 is liquid at room temperature and can be stored in liquid state without significant boil off, thus making it a storable propellant better suited for long-term interplanetary missions. Aerozine 50 was largely used in ICBMs and in their derivative launchers such as the core stages of the Titan-II/III/IV rocket because an ICBM requires long term storage and launch on short notice; the rocket must be stored already fueled. This fuel was also used in ICBM derived upper stages, such as the Delta II rocket. It was also used by the Apollo Lunar Module and the Service Propulsion System engine in the Apollo CSM. The Ariane 1 through Ariane 4 family used a related fuel, a mixture of 75% UDMH and 25% hydrazine hydrate called UH 25.
Aerozine is not used as a monopropellant. The extra stability conferred by the methyl groups affects reactivity and thrust.
In 1980, a leakage of Aerozine 50 resulted in the 1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion. The leak occurred due to puncture of the first-stage Titan fuel tank by a dropped tool. The initial explosion removed the 740-ton silo door and ejected the second stage and warhead out of the silo. The Titan's second stage exploded and the W53 warhead landed 30 meters from the silo portal without detonating or leaking fissile material.
A potentially novel hypergolic alternative has been developed based on tertiary amine azides – called CINCH (Competitive Impulse Non-Carcinogenic Hypergol) and the name of the compound is 2-Dimethylaminoethylazide.
- UH 25 – a mixture of 75% UDMH and 25% hydrazine.
- "Aerozine50 Specifications & DOT Shipping Information" (PDF). NASA. October 5, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 26, 2014.
- Clark, John D. (1972). Ignition! An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants. Rutgers University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-8135-0725-1.
- "Army Develops New Fuel". Spacedaily.com. February 23, 2000. Retrieved July 12, 2014.
- McQuaid, Michael J. (April 2004). The Structure of Secondary 2-Azidoethanamines: A Hypergolic Fuel vs. a Nonhypergolic Fuel (PDF) (Technical report). Army Research Laboratory. ARL-TR-3176.