Jeffrey LewisAddendum on KN08

Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker have sent along an Addendum, following up on their original analysis posted here and which  spawned so much press coverage.

The issues it raises continue to be very interesting.  I am embroiled in several very interesting discussions, one of which is occurring in the comments to my previous post, Real Fake Missiles.  My favorite moment has been encountering the acronym BFRC — Big F*cking Red Cloud.  Here are some descriptions I found elsewhere:

The thing that always scared us was, in Gemini, when the Titan [was] flight-pressurized.  And we had that glorious BFRC.  You’re familiar with that term?  It stands for “big fucking red cloud.” See, whenever they had a leak, they said, “Don’t open the elevator door!” It was big red stuff.  You’re talking about nitrogen tetroxide all around us.

NTO leakage on the engine test stands at WSTF was known as a “BFRC.” One might hear over the loud speakers, “We have a BFRC on 3!” A new secretary asked her boss, “What does BFRC mean?” Like a pluperfect idiot he told her. “BFRC means Big F*cking Red Cloud.” Shortly thereafter a directive came down from the head-shed that from that time forward, BFRC’s would be referred to as “Propellant Excursions.” I really believe to this day that “BFRC” better described the urgency of the situation.

NTO, of course, is what North Korea may use as an oxidizer.  I wonder how to say Big F*cking Red Cloud in Korean?


  1. Captain Ned (History)

    According to Dad (Titan II silo in some Kansas wheat field, and I was born in the McConnell AFB base hospital) the only “excursions” during a BFRC incident had nothing to do with the missile.

    As for Korean, BabelFish won’t even offer a guess.

  2. krepon (History)

    Re Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker… What comes to mind is the tag line in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, said in begrudging admiration: “Who are these guys?”
    Not bad for non-government work.

  3. Alex W. (History)

    Does anybody have any photos of a real-deal BFRC?

    This page (!i=451460357&k=vpW3J&lb=1&s=A) has a demo BRC, showing what one cupful of the stuff produces, but I’d love to see a real-deal BFRC.

    • Captain Ned (History)

      Therein lies the problem with BFRC photography. If you’re close enough to notice it, taking the picture is not high on your list of survival responses.

  4. Peter Hayes (History)

    더럽게 붉은 구름

  5. Anon2 (History)

    Dad use to work at Cape Kennedy/Canaveral and was always coming home with swag.

    One was a little pamphlet giving general safety instructions for working on the “launch gantry”. It had a section about leak safety procedures for UDMH (long acronym for a longer name) and its oxidizer (I guess NTO) — used at the Titan launch complex. I remembered that it was potentially fatal.

    That section made an impression on this 12 year old.

    Thank you ACW.

    • George William Herbert (History)

      UDMH is unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine. The highest density and least healthy hydrazine used in propulsion. Formula NH2N(CH3)2

      They also use plain hydrazine ( N2H4 ) and monomethyl hydrazine ( CH3( NH ) NH2 ). Often mixes of two or three if the hydrazines.

    • Anon2 (History)

      un-sym-me-tri-cal di-meth-yl hy-dra-zine

      The 11 syllables was part of the impression.

      Dad passed away a long time ago. I still have all this swag in storage somewhere. Dad thought it would have some historical value in context of project Apollo.