Hydrazine Video: This 1966 NASA Film Is All About Hydrazine, How Bad It Is, and How It Is Properly Handled


Hydrazine Video: This 1966 NASA Film Is All About Hydrazine, How Bad It Is, and How It Is Properly Handled

While nitromethane is some tough stuff when it comes to fuel, the legend and mystique surrounding Hydrazine persists. Hydrazine is rocket fuel and it was reportedly used on and off by drag racers in varying levels during the 1960s to increase performance and send parts into low Earth orbit. Some claim that Chris Karamesines used it during the disputed 200mph run at Alton, Illinois in 1960. Other old time racers have told us that a simple test tube of the stuff would transform a nitro engine into a self-destructive animal that (if it lived long enough) would run like nothing they had ever driven. The stories about procuring it are interesting but the bottom line is that the drag racers didn’t really know what the hell the stuff was other than it would make internal combustion engines extremely pissed off. We think that if they had seen this 1966 NASA video they would have probably run away from the stuff at its mere mention.

Admittedly you have to be a pretty big dork to find this video as enthralling as we did but hear us out. The film is a 1966 NASA safety piece that talks about what hydrazine is, why it is used, and then it goes into great detail talking about how dangerous the stuff is and all of the various ways that it can kill you. They handled hydrazine like it was a monster constantly trying to escape its bonds and essentially that is what the stuff was and is. There are some cool demonstrations both in the lab and outside of it which show how volatile this stuff is. Of particular interest was a comparison to gasoline which provides perhaps the most relatable and stark example.

Finally the other exceptionally cool thing about this video is a look into the world of NASA years before we actually put a guy on the moon. Yes, we were shooting people and things into space but NASA was still in full thrash mode to get their Apollo program into high gear. The various families of rockets are introduced and explained as well. If you are a historical space dork, you are not going to do much better than this footage.

There’s no denying that at least a small percentage of the hydrazine stories are true. There’s also no denying that the majority of them are probably bullshit. After watching these videos and thinking about caviler drag racers messing with this stuff, if it had happened in the volume some believe there would have been a pretty big body count.

Press play below to see this 1966 NASA film about hydrazine and how nasty it is –


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6 thoughts on “Hydrazine Video: This 1966 NASA Film Is All About Hydrazine, How Bad It Is, and How It Is Properly Handled

  1. phitter67

    When I was a pipefitter I had an acid line break off as I shut a valve. So I can relate to the guy in the ambulance. Ten years later I still have a red vee shape on my neck.

    Reply
  2. Texcuda

    The F16 has used hydrazine since it’s inception to power the APU. When the USAF tells you it is bad and they don’t really know what it will do to you, it’s time to look away.

    Reply
    1. Nitromike66

      Yep, what he said^^^, spent four years on the flightline in the USAF. For those that don’t know, APU stands for “auxiliary power unit,” which is basically an emergency generator for the plane.

      Reply
  3. Danno

    That’s some pretty scary shit for sure. Anyone else notice that immediately after the demonstrated toxic leak that the medical crew in the ambulance went directly into the leak area with absolutely no protective gear? Oops!!

    Reply
  4. D Benge

    I worked with this stuff in mass quantities as a Titan II ICBM Propellant Transfer Systems Technician the first 16 years of my USAF career. A Titan II was loaded with 15000+ gallons while it sat alert in the underground silo. Our fuel was a 50/50 blend of Hydrazine and UDMH Hydrazine this was really nasty shit…most of us crazy propellant techs drove big block muscle cares back in the early 1970s, but as crazy as we were I cant think of anyone adding any to the gas tank. If you want to see what a Hydrazine leak and resulting hypergolic explosion in a underground silo go to net flex and watch the documentary “Command and Control” about the 1980 explosion at Titan complex 374-7 in Arkansas.

    Reply

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