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Missile thruster nozzle.
An example of the element Niobium

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Missile thruster nozzle.
Sometimes it helps to know antique element names. This item was listed on eBay as being made of "columbium", which is the old name for niobium, still used sometimes in commerce, never in science. I think the only part of it made of niobium is the small nozzle opening inside the thick round insulation. This was said to be a navigational thruster from a Minute Man ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile). From the look of it, I'd say it ran on a two-part, spontaneously combustible liquid fuel. There are two inlet hose fittings, and if two such components were to flow in through two separate tubes and light themselves on contact, the result would obviously be a lot of hot gas shooting out the nozzle. If I'm right, this small unit (only about 7" across) is in fact a complete rocket engine, though of course its only job was to nudge the missile a little bit this way or that, not to actually lift it off the ground.
Source: eBay seller selwrite
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 20 January, 2007
Text Updated: 21 January, 2007
Price: $152
Size: 7"
Purity: >99%
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