What Are The Disadvantages Of Solid Propellant Rockets?

  1. Explosion and fire potential is larger; failure can be catastrophic; most cannot accept bullet impact or being dropped onto a hard surface.
  2. Many require environmental permit and safety features for transport on public conveyances.
  3. Under certain conditions some propellants and grains can detonate.
  4. Cumulative grain damage occurs through temperature cycling or rough handling; this limits the useful life.
  5. If designed for reuse, it requires extensive factory rework and new propellants.
  6. Requires an ignition system.
  7. Each restart requires a separate ignition system and additional insulation–in practice, one or two restarts.
  8. Exhaust gases are usually toxic for composite propellants containing ammonium perchlorate.
  9. Some propellants or propellant ingredients can deteriorate (self-decompose) in storage.
  10. Most solid propellant plumes cause more radio frequency attenuation than liquid propellant plumes.
  11. Only some motors can be stopped at random, but motor becomes disabled (not reusable).
  12. Once ignited, cannot change predetermined thrust or duration. A moving pintle design with a variety throat area will allow random thrust changes, but experience is limited.
  13. If propellant contains more than a few percent particulate carbon, aluminum, or other metal, the exhaust will be smoky and the plume radiation will be intense.
  14. Integrity of grain (cracks, unbonded areas) is difficult to determine in the field.
  15. Thrust and operating duration will vary with initial ambient grain temperature and cannot be easily controlled. Thus the flight path, velocity, altitude, and range of a motor will vary with the grain temperature.
  16. Large boosters take a few seconds to start.
  17. Thermal insulation is required in almost all rocket motors.
  18. Cannot be tested prior to use.
  19. Needs a safety provision to prevent inadvertent ignition, which would lead to an unplanned motor firing. Can cause a disaster.

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