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Rocket Racing League Showcases New X-Racers

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the participatory-spectator-sport dept.

Space 39

FleaPlus writes "The Rocket Racing League demonstrated two of their new 'Mark III' X-Racer rocketplanes at an air show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Besides making for a fun show, the League also pushes the boundaries for reusable and easily maintainable rocket engines. (The X-Racer's liquid oxygen and ethanol rocket engine was made by John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace, which recently released a video showcasing some of the rockets they've launched and landed in the past year.)"

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39 comments

Interesting.... (3, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005484)

In other words, the Rocket Racing league found a way to make the most common form of space propulsion marketable to the general public: entertainment. Well played. If this rocket racing league takes off, it will certainly spurn advances in chemical based propulsion and reusable rocket engines since entertainment seems to be a great way to generate R&D money for technology (see NASCAR). I'm impressed.

Re:Interesting.... (2, Insightful)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005578)

Except we've been waiting for this 'Rocket Racing League' to [i]take off[/i], pun or not, for the last [b]six years[/b]. It is the Duke Nukem Forever of motor^H^H^H^Hsports.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

Ranzear (1082021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005594)

Curse the ubiquity of BBCode.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005646)

Dude, we've been waiting for Virgin Galactic for nearly as long.

Re:Interesting.... (3, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005732)

> Except we've been waiting for this 'Rocket Racing League' to [i]take off[/i], pun or not, for the last [b]six years[/b]. It is the Duke Nukem Forever of motor^H^H^H^Hsports.

Yup, the financial crash sucked for a lot of things, especially high-risk ventures like the Rocket Racing League seeking cash from investors. It looks like they've managed to get enough funding to design and build the first two race vehicles though, so hopefully the odds are now quite good of seeing races in the near future.

Re:Interesting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32005902)

which advances? we might be able to squeeze some 10-15 more percent out of rockets. but they already are pretty at the limits of what chemistry can do. it just wont get much better than hydrogen and oxygen. high upper 90s % efficiency, physically they topped out too.
all the air breather schemes get you a few percent improvement. that's it.
the only way to improve is to go nuclear.

Which advances? (1)

tehdaemon (753808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32009480)

Smaller, lighter, cheaper, more reliable.

Efficiency isn't everything.

T

Re:Interesting.... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#32010766)

You also have thrust/weight and fuel density. There's a lot more to rockets than ISP.

the only way to improve is to go nuclear.

Not from Earth to orbit. To be blunt, you might be able to eventually use nuclear rockets somewhere on the trajectory from Earth to orbit (or suborbital flights), but it's going to take a solid working history of a reliable design first. I don't see that happening in our lifetimes. Meaning it isn't relevant for rocketplanes or similar near Earth uses.

Re:Interesting.... (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32006930)

The one thing they are lacking is simultaneous racing. If you had a dozen rocket racers in the air at the same time, flying along the track, that would be a dream. I don't know if there is any way it could be done safely, but if there were, it would be 10 times better than nascar.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 4 years ago | (#32009572)

Not really. I think you'd be surprised at how these planes race. The exhibition runs they did at EAA's oshkosh flyins the last two years were somewhat less exciting than regular prop-plane pylon races. They use the rocket to gain altitude, and then glide. Rinse, repeat. It's all about fuel management, not top speed.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32009670)

Oh. That's kind of depressing actually.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32010948)

Not to mention the top speed of 200 mph - that's kind of slow for a rocket powered plane (even if the 15 foot long rocket flame is nice looking)

Re:Interesting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32012014)

Except this won't be entertaining at all. The planes will go slower than race cars, they won't actually race each other and there won't be much of a 'track'. It's a terrible idea that will be even more boring to watch than boat racing. But hey fake wrestling seems to draw crowds so you never know.

Re:Interesting.... (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 4 years ago | (#32017550)

Exactly how has NASCAR helped? The cars are all basically the same except for color and sponsor decals, they use the same motor (which was out of date 20 years ago). The only reason NASCAR fans watch the races are for the crashes, and I suspect that the same fan base will watch the RRL for much the samereason except the crashes will be an order of magnitude more spectacular.

Bread and Circuses

Not mainstream (1)

Singularity42 (1658297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005492)

Before it even becomes mainstream, you'll have remote control and then automatic pilots. Never mainstream.

Re:Not mainstream (2, Funny)

longacre (1090157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005660)

The masses want to see blood.

NASCAR is a 500 mile left turn, hoping somebody makes a right turn.

Re:Not mainstream (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32007310)

And yet humans can barely handle this simplicity.

Bring on the dangerous chemicals, WOOO!

Re:Not mainstream (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 4 years ago | (#32009366)

LO2 and ethanol... you can get frost burn from contact, but neither are particularly dangerous or exotic. Certainly not when compared to stuff like hydrazine and other extremely toxic chemicals commonly used for rocket fuel.

The video was really cool. And more interesting. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005568)

What is the purpose of the contract for the hovering rockets? Is NASA planning landers that will have to hover somewhere - like Mars - or something?

Re:The video was really cool. And more interesting (4, Informative)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005596)

It's called the Lunar Lander Challenge. Does that tell you anything?

Re:The video was really cool. And more interesting (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005762)

I am so happy you posted that under the UID: "Areyoukiddingme." Very nice.

Re:The video was really cool. And more interesting (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005698)

> What is the purpose of the contract for the hovering rockets? Is NASA planning landers that will have to hover somewhere - like Mars - or something?

There's a few markets for VTVL hovering rockets, being pursued by companies like Armadillo Aerospace (mentioned in the summary), Masten Space Systems, and Blue Origin:

* suborbital atmospheric science payloads: relatively little is known about the upper atmosphere, and this allows much cheaper and more frequent atmospheric sampling compared to current methods (weather balloons, million-dollar sounding rockets, etc.)
* microgravity flights: you can get a 3-4 minutes of microgravity, which is useful for biology experiments, physics experiments, and testing space systems
* space observing: you can fly instruments above the atmosphere to take some quick photos and other measurements of stellar bodies, as a lower-cost alternative to orbital space telescopes
* pop-up rockets: using the hovering rocket as a reusable booster for a second-stage which goes into orbit
* manned flights: for tourism and astronaut training
* in the future, lunar/Mars landers, for either unmanned or manned missions
* testing systems to be used on landers. Armadillo has mentioned recently that NASA is using their lander as a testbed for some systems which may be used on the "Project M" mission to land a humanoid robot on the Moon within 1000 days.

Re:The video was really cool. And more interesting (1)

stjobe (78285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011634)

It's nice that Armadillo are continuing the legacy of the DC-X Delta Clipper [wikipedia.org] .

This video [youtube.com] shows the DC-X taking off, gaining altitude, dipping it's nose under the horizon, regaining vertical flight and landing. It's pretty amazing.

Shame it got cancelled.

Re:The video was really cool. And more interesting (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 4 years ago | (#32017374)

I was in a meeting with venture financiers when the DC-X program was announced and they walked out.

The venture being considered for financing was a private rocket company. They didn't want to compete with government's subsidized winners the way the government subsidized the Shuttle.

To make matters worse, the likely source of the DC-X support came from Congressman Rorabacher after I met with him in 1991 regarding the Launch Services Purchase Act and mentioned to him that Truax was looking at a trans-pacific shuttle service as a possible business venture.

PS: Armadillo didn't its technology from the DC-X legacy.

Rocket Race (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32005802)

I miss Rocket Racing. It was fun riding on Mongooses and shooting other people off theirs with rocket launchers.

That is, fun as long as you were playing against people who actually played to win instead of just griefing to prevent anyone else from winning. It could have used a rule that expired the invulnerability for players that stayed off a ride too long.

Trol7koRe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32006368)

out8each are If *BSD is to Impaired its centralized of OpenBSD versus

Hey, Lori! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32006468)

When is Barack going to tour John's shop?

I know what the Jewish team will be called... (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 4 years ago | (#32006848)

"LOx & Bagels"!

Re:I know what the Jewish team will be called... (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32007044)

> "LOx & Bagels"!

There's actually an interesting bit of history about that:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagel_(disambiguation) [wikipedia.org]

Rocket fuel name

"Bagel" was also the whimsical name suggested by pioneering rocket fuel scientist Mary Sherman Morgan, who engineered the Hydyne-LOX (Liquid OXygen) fuel combination used by North American Aviation in their early U.S. rocket designs of the incipient space race. Sherman suggested calling her new fuel invention Bagel since the Redstone propellant combination would then be called 'LOX and Bagel.' [4][5][6] Her suggested name for the new fuel was not accepted, and 'Hydyne' was chosen instead by the U.S. Army. The standard Redstone was fueled with a 75% ethyl alcohol solution, but the Jupiter-C first stage had used Hydyne fuel, a blend of 60% unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and 40% diethylenetriamine (DETA).[7] This was a more powerful fuel than ethyl alcohol, but it was also more toxic.[8]

The fuel was used with the Rocketdyne Redstone rocket only once -to launch America's first satellite Explorer I, after which it was discontinued in favor of higher performing fuels.

It's not just the BIG tech... (2, Interesting)

Wacky_Wookie (683151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32006974)

With high tech sports like this, the fancy stuff gets a lot of press, but I bet the small stuff will really help out space exploration.

Take the 3D virtual race course technology, not super surprising, but super dam useful for future civilian rocket/space flight applications.

Just having a place, such as a the Rocket Racing league, that provides a venue and funding to develop bleeding edge, high risk tech is a massive boon for progress.

Safety systems, rocket aerodynamics, even flight strategy techniques. It will also provide a new employment pool and a place to get experience for new engineers, flight crew and pilots.

Rockets....still? (2, Insightful)

hackus (159037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32007738)

Its sort of well...boring.

I mean, the Chinese where doing that way back when people thought rocks where cool.

Maybe its time to throw away the standard model, which missed like 95% of reality about how the universe works, and think about a different way to do things.

First though, to do that we need to:

1) Get rid of the money surrounding rocket contracts.
2) Corrupt congressional leaders which are bought off by these contractors.
3) Maybe getting rid of group think that is required in science today to think exactly the same as everyone else if you want to get published or get funding.

oh yes....then of course there is the powers that be...because they simply will not stand for any kind of power source that will be limitless and pretty much freely available to everyone that would come about through said research because well, it threatens to end thier strangle hold on most of the world.

If you decide that really, rockets are so passe, you might want to look at any of the 4 points above.

But be very careful, trying to chaneg just ONE of the above points could be dangerous to your health.

-Hack

Re:Rockets....still? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32010578)

Hehe.

Lisa, in this house we obey the Laws of Thermodynamics!

Re:Rockets....still? (1)

thijsh (910751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32011846)

Psssst, ahead warning: word down the wire is: Get rid of hackus.

I guess you were right, the powers that be are afraid of Chaneg. :)

yu0 fail it (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32009788)

worthwhile. So I so there are p*eople Example, if you I won't bore you Tired arGuments more. If you feel

Still not interested. (1)

Michael_gr (1066324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32010226)

Okay, so it's rocket powered, so what? ?Rockets are not the best type of engines for atmospheric flight. Consider the Rocket pack's 30 seconds of flight time vs. the jet pack's half hour. Here's the relevant sound bite: "The planes carry enough fuel for a total of two minutes of thrust. So, once real racing begins, the winning pilot will likely be the one who most effectively manages the plane's energy under such constraints". Oh, how exhilarating! And don't forget they don't actually race each other - that would be too unsafe. Each racer has its own virtual track. Forget about Nascar-style collisions! I like space technology and airplanes, but this is just pathetic.
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