It’ll never get off the ground

Paul Breed, Unreasonable Rocket:

A long time ago a normal mortal could buy rocket grade peroxide. Then someone crashed their rocket pack and sued the peroxide supplier. They won and the supplier lost more on that suit than they had ever made on the small rocket grade peroxide sales. So they did the smart thing and stopped selling rocket grade peroxide to anyone that did not have a government contract.

Result: he decides to try making his own. (That sounds like a step forward for safety, doesn’t it?) What happened next, as well as commenter reactions, at the link.


  • “(That sounds like a step forward for safety, doesn’t it?)”

    I’m curious about this statement. From what I read, once he decided to refine his own peroxide, he consulted professionals and constructed a facility for doing it correctly and safely. In my opinion, the only thing that he did wrong, was being too open with his vendor about his intentions.

    I can understand the vendor of the 70% peroxide refusing to sell to him, as is their right, but, didn’t they over reach when they contacted the vendor of the 50% peroxide? As one of the comments stated, does he have a case against the company?

  • I am not disputing that he himself may have an outstanding grasp of the safety considerations involved in making small runs for his own use. I just think that if others decide to follow in his footsteps by making their own, there are likely to be some whose command of the safety issues is not as outstanding, resulting in a higher level of risk than if the system had just let them buy standardized product from industrial sources.

  • Except there are off the shelf kits available for just this niche with proven safety records.

  • Not for the amount of material he needs to process though. That’s impressive.

  • A reader who asks to remain anonymous writes:

    Hydrogen peroxide is extremely difficult to handle at high concentrations, so I feel some sympathy with the suppliers.

    However, the same situation applies to numerous industrial chemicals which are not dangerous. I needed some “stuff” which is available only from one supplier, which owns the patent. This “stuff” is chemically inert. You could probably drink some without ill effects. Still, the supplier sent me their standard form which basically says, “What do you want to use this for?” And if I had answered truthfully, they would have said, “We are not going to supply it to you,” because I am engaged in research where the chemical compound is used for a new application.

    Now imagine this situation multiplied across the nation. Basically it means that if someone has an idea to use an existing, safe chemical for an unusual purpose, either he must lie, or he cannot use it. This is an obvious recipe for stifling innovation.

    Of course I can see it from the supplier’s point of view: They have insurance which covers them against liability for “approved uses” of the various chemicals. If they knowingly supply the chemicals for unapproved uses, I am betting that their insurance won’t cover them. So, naturally, they don’t want the exposure. (And at my end, my insurance won’t cover unapproved uses either, which means that if an employee has an accident while using the chemical, I am in trouble, even if the chemical itself doesn’t do any harm.)