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"Solid Rocket Motor Igniters"

by NASA, Aerojet, Thiokol, and Rocketdyne scientists and engineers

Be sure to
                        see our historic books by Dr. Goddard and the
                        rare NASA texts!
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Solid Rocket Motor Igniters.

by NASA, Aerojet, Thiokol, and Rocketdyne scientists and engineers


If you design, build, test, or use solid propellant rockets, you need this reference handbook.  It's the official NASA igniter design guide, full of once highly-secret formulations, scientific data, rocketry information, and military missile lore, providing data on all types of rocket and missile igniter systems. 

Prepared at the NASA Lewis Research Center by scientists and engineers from Aerojet-General Corporation, Rocketdyne Solid Rocket Division (North American Rockwell Corporation), Bermite Division (Whittaker Corporation), and Thiokol Chemical Corporation, this valuable book gives the practical information you need. 

The contents are the result of more than 20 years of investigations by the world's largest propulsion contractors.  Literally millions of dollars were spent obtaining this critical yet hard-to-find data. 


Typical engineering drawing (much smaller than in book)

This is the most complete and comprehensive book ever written about the theoretical and practical engineering design of igniters and ignition systems for solid propellant rocket engines.

Igniter and ignition topics that are investigated in detail:


Pyrotechnic, prime-charge, and propellant characteristics
Chemical formulations for pyrogens and igniter charges
Jelly roll igniters and ignition cord
Pyrodyne and pelleted pyrotechnic igniters
Electro-explosive, low- and high-voltage, and mechanical ignition devices
Hypergolic and laser ignition devices
Programmed and demand restart systems
Pyrogens and pyrogen ignition systems
Initiation, delay, and safe/arm systems
Exploding bridgewire systems
Bridgewire-prime charge design
Thermoelectric materials and bridge resistance factors
Overload protection and voltage-blocking devices
Initiator output charges
Initiation system hardware: pressure seals, insulation, housing materials, films, and coatings etc
Configuration, igniter location and through-bulkhead initiators
Sensitivity to induced current, electrostatic discharge, and various firing stimuli
Design proof testing
Transition charge characteristics
Ignition shock, ballistic performance, energy propagation and output
Calorific, pressure, and heat flux output
Pyrogen pressure-time performance
Pyrotechnic pressure-time performance

This massive reference text covers every topic related to solid rocket motor ignition.  It’s thick, heavy, and packed with accurate information for the professional (and “amateur”) rocket scientist, engineer, technician, and experimenter.

There are detailed chemical formulations and characteristics, for black powder, pistol powder, boron/potassium nitrate (B-KNO3), Alclo, Mg/Teflon, double-base smokeless, and composite (ammonium perchlorate) pyrotechnic and propellant formulations.  The book discusses compositions used in Polaris, Phoenix, Sidewinder, and many other rockets and missiles.

There are also numerous exceptionally-detailed engineering drawings, including:

  • Formulations for output charges
  • Hot wire initiators
  • Through-bulkhead initiators
  • Pyrogen igniters
  • Motor ignition time
  • Igniter charge weight vs. motor free volume
  • Chart for estimating ignition energy requirements
  • Effect of pressure on propellant ignition time
  • Watt density graph for lead styphnate ignition charges
Plus ten pages of technical references (147 different studies are listed), a five-page glossary of arcane symbols and definitions used in ignition and propellant equations ... and MUCH more not mentioned here!

All essential algebraic formulae and equations are included, working with a wide variety of pyrogens and ignition systems. 

Typical illustrations from the book (smaller than actual size)


Typical detailed engineering drawing


Typical detailed engineering drawing


Typical detailed design theory illustration


Typical explanation of igniter design theory


Typical ignition design calculus: one of many in this highly-detailed reference book

If you design, build, test, or fly rockets or missiles of any size, you'll want this superb reference textbook.  It’s especially useful for “amateur” rocket builders -- with an abundance of data, esoteric information, and once-secret lore from the world's foremost rocket builders: Aerojet, Thiokol, Rocketdyne, and NASA.

Very hard to find and now out-of-print, this new limited edition has been republished by the Rocket Science Institute.  It's printed with a high-resolution laser printer (not photocopied) on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper for years of reference use.  114 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size.  ISBN 1-878628-18-6    $22.95

USA (Insured Priority Mail: $3.85)

International (Airmail: $9.85)


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The Rocket Science Institute is a non-profit scientific and educational foundation in support of "amateur" experimental rocket science, engineering, and technology.

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Nitrate-type Propellants Group