Numerous investigations have shown that a large number of free electrons are present in a rocket exhaust. Because these electrons interfere with telemetry they have been the subject of several studies ranging in motive from discovering their source to inhibiting their production. The puzzling feature of the problem has been the failure of thermodynamics to predict the measured concentration of free electrons in the exhaust. One theory which has been capable of explaining this anomaly in part treats the impurities in the fuel notably sodium and potassium rather than the fuel itself as the source of these electrons. New fuels, which have recently been tested, have been found to have a concentration of free electrons which can not be predicted by the simple impurity ionization theory outlined above. This fact has caused a re-examination of the impurity theory and this paper is an account of some calculations which show that there is a plausible explanation for the breakdown of the theory.
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