The space race: Industrial gases, cryogenics and fuelling our future of flight


The aborted Artemis 1 missions thrust liquid hydrogen into the global spotlight – and hydrogen promises to have a major influence on our post-fossil-fuel aviation era. Here we consider the major technological changes affecting space travel and wider aviation industry as it must embrace sustainable fuels for future travel.

As a metaphor, it was hard to resist. Amid stuttering growth from the ever-widening energy crisis, even the Artemis I rocket couldn’t get off the ground, with two attempts being aborted. In a world where hydrogen projects are multiplying daily, the recurrence of a liquid hydrogen leak in the high-profile space mission also underlined the gas’ dangerous properties as much as its accelerating commercial potential.

Despite the scheduling hiccups – and costs estimated in the region of $1.2m – NASA’s Artemis is unquestionably a feat of engineering and temperature storage. The rocket can hold 730,000 gallons (2.76 million litres) of liquid hydrogen, which must be stored at -423˚F, as well as oxygen. Its revised launch is now pencilled in for late September or early October.

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