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1 Amateur Rocket Crashes, Another Explodes 292

Posted by timothy
from the eggs-striving-to-be-omelets dept.
prostoalex writes "A 23-foot-long space rocket carrying 3 dummies exploded in the Pacific Northwest after reaching about 200 feet. The team was competing for Ansari X Prize, offering $10 million to the team that successfully completes a low-budget private space rocket capable of carrying men into space. Google News offers more perspectives into the event, the team is saying the rocket, whose parachute malfunctioned, would have to be rebuilt." And AmiNTT writes "Everygeek's favorite rocketeers over at Armadillo Aerospace have suffered a fairly serious setback over the weekend - the crash of their 48-inch vehicle link in a test hop at their 100 acre test field. Of course there is video and pictures - 2 3... This setback should keep them from flying for about five weeks, but will give them a chance to make some design changes. I'm sure they will be back better than ever. (Armadillo have shown up on Slashdot many times in the past.)"
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1 Amateur Rocket Crashes, Another Explodes

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  • by metalac (633801) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:28AM (#9917900)
    It seems that nobody pays any attention to the dummies, they are the real victims here, but nobody cares.

    What kind of world are we living? I say it's end of the world when we stop carying for dummies.
  • doom3 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Wakkow (52585) * on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:29AM (#9917903) Homepage
    Best quote from the weblog about the incident:

    "Amazingly, even though the on-board camera was destroyed, the tape did survive with only some scuffed sections. It's a good thing Doom 3 is selling very well..."
  • by omegacentrix (473330) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:30AM (#9917909) Homepage
    to the Union Aerospace Corporation...
  • by oostevo (736441) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:30AM (#9917911) Homepage
    Did anybody else look at that video and immediately remember the montage sequence from The Right Stuff with archival footage of NASA's rockets blowing up?

    That didn't set them back, and somehow I don't think this will set back these private experimenters either.

    • by mcrbids (148650) on Monday August 09, 2004 @03:49AM (#9918325) Journal
      Did anybody else look at that video and immediately remember the montage sequence from The Right Stuff with archival footage of NASA's rockets blowing up?

      Wow... am I with you on this one. Remember people... these are ENGINEERS. They are developing something new...

      Compare this engineering to software engineering.

      1) A software engineer comes up with an idea.

      2) A programmer writes a test case of the idea. Often, the programmer is the engineer in step 1.

      3) Software is run. Program crashes, bombs, but does something resembling the goals in step 1.

      4) Bugs are found, worked out, kinked, etc.

      Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the program works as it should....

      The ONLY difference between this and aeronautics is that when it crashes, you have to rebuild the rocket. (You have to rebuild the software, too, but that's assumed, automatic and usually done in 10 seconds)

      So, I really don't get why the disconnect. It's engineering! Products are seldom viable in the first design attempt, but a basically workable design is tweaked until it's ready.

      No different here.
      • Wow... am I with you on this one. Remember people... these are ENGINEERS. They are developing something new...

        Compare this engineering to software engineering.

        1) A software engineer comes up with an idea.

        2) A programmer writes a test case of the idea. Often, the programmer is the engineer in step 1.

        3) Software is run. Program crashes, bombs, but does something resembling the goals in step 1.


        You forgot a step
        3a} Bring product to market and hope it sells well.

        4) Bugs are found, worked out, kinked, etc
        • 4}Sell version 95, 98, 2000, XP...

          Ah Yes. Another dig at Microsoft. I am sure the Unix vendors and Apple haven't done the same. The only reason why I'm letting you get away with OSS, is because at least its free.
      • The ONLY difference between this and aeronautics is that when it crashes, you have to rebuild the rocket.

        Well, there's also the difference that many times, people will also die from these failures. SpaceShipOne's first test flight was manned; the da Vinci project is going to have their first flight (an attempt at the prize, not just a test flight) be manned as well. It's easy enough to shake something like this off, but if there is a well-publicised failure involving the death of the pilot, I think we'll

        • This is private space flight... what is this public you are talking about?
        • Hopefully that will never happen, but should the worst occur, we may find that the public is much less accepting of this endeavour than before.

          You're right, but you shouldn't be. What business of the public is it if a fellow blows himself up in his rocketship? So long as he doesn't damage anything in the process, of course.

          But you're completely correct: an accident and suddenly folks will demand regulation 'for the good of the pilots.' And another industry will be set back another half-century.

      • ...and you wonder why the majority of professional engineering organizations have no wish of being associated with software developers, or having software engineering as a recognized engineering field.

        Quite a few states and provinces, as well as countries, require all professional engineers to be licenced to provide a minimum level of competence and to avoid unprofessional conduct.

        In software there is the luxury of solving some problems via this trial and error practice since the typical cost of failure i
      • They are not really trying anything "new". Launching from an airplane has been done many time All the X planes where launched in a manner not to different from Rutans system. Rutan's rocket motor is also well tested. Look at the difference between Rutan a real aerospace engineer and the others. No earth shattering kabooms!
        "So, I really don't get why the disconnect. It's engineering! Products are seldom viable in the first design attempt, but a basically workable design is tweaked until it's ready."
        That is t
      • Bugs are found, worked out, kinked, etc.

        Alright, who's been a naughty variable? Don't make me get out the ball gag and lash.
      • Maybe so, but someone forgot to tell Sir Bill a long time ago about how engineers develop software. Of course, he is not an engineer, so it might not have helped......
    • by Syre (234917) on Monday August 09, 2004 @04:16AM (#9918376)
      I'm concerned about Brian Feeney and his da Vinci Project [davinciproject.com]. Apparently they may be planning to launch with no test flights [yahoo.com] in order to hit the deadline for the X Prize.

      This is extremely risky, and perhaps suicidal. Rockets do, as we've seen, notoriously tend to blow up and otherwise malfunction in their initial testing.

      NASA got it right because they tested over and over again and had a big budget to do so.

      With the deadline fast approaching, it seems that some teams, like Feeney's, will be tempted to cut corners in order to have a chance of winning the X Prize.

      Cutting corners and sticking to a timetable is what caused the Challenger disaster. I hope we don't see other lives lost as a result of this X Prize deadline.
      • by feargal (99776) on Monday August 09, 2004 @05:03AM (#9918511) Homepage
        To be exact, they haven't done any test flights yet. They haven't revealed when they will do them, but have stated that they do have a number of drop tests scheduled.

        I do share your fear though, in Wild Fire's case the project leader, Brian Feeney, will be the pilot so I remain optimistic that adequate testing will be done. If not, at least he's not playing with other people's lives.
    • I looked at the video and thought of previous videos which had shown the Armadillo crew standing a mere 50 feet from the pad.

      I wish they'd stand further off; their rockets are good, they are cool, but they are also (provably) dangerous!

      Makes me nervous every time they test something.
      • I haven't had my coffee yet, but IIRC John posted something about them all sitting behind the nice concrete bunker with only the wireless antenna in direct view of the rocket.
        • If you go back thru some of the 'hop' test videos, they're stood next to their cars / trailer about 50 feet away when the rocket does it's 100ft hops.

          There is clearly more than a wireless antenna in line of sight with the rocket as part the 48inch video shows the rocket from an apparently manually tracked camera.
  • by wviperw (706068) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:33AM (#9917921) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes I think you people actually take JOY out of directly linking to large JPGs and MPGs on /.

    Ahh well, Armadillo Aerospace is down, but at least there is still Union Aerospace [ua-corp.com] to look at. Err... wait.
  • by multiplexo (27356) * on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:35AM (#9917925) Journal
    place categories in the Ansari X-Prize, say a second place that would win 5 million dollars and a third place that would win two. It seems as if there's a lot of cool stuff being developed by the impetus of the prize. I'd hate to see that stop when the prize is awarded.

    • by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:44AM (#9917963) Homepage
      Carmack commented on this on the Armadillo blog a month ago; his opinion is that only Rutan's team are close, given that they are very close to success he's not going to try a Hail Mary attempt, and nobody else is close as far as he can tell (and recent events would tend to underline this view). Furthermore, he and the rest of the Armadillo team intend to continue their rocketry work anyway.

      More broadly, I believe there are plans for post X-Prize competitions in the future, where various teams would get together annually to compete for the highest launch, fastest turnaround, and so on.

      Ultimately, it wouldn't surprise me, particularly if Scaled wins the X-Prize, if in a few years time we have the "Y-Prize" for orbital shots.

      • Ultimately, it wouldn't surprise me, particularly if Scaled wins the X-Prize, if in a few years time we have the "Y-Prize" for orbital shots.
        I'd like to see a prize for a vehicle that can snatch a dead satellite from orbit and bring it safely back to earth for less than the value of the satellite.
        • Uh, the main cost is not the value of the components that make up the satellite, but rather the cost of putting the damn thing up there in the first place.
          • I don't believe the proportion of costs of launch vs development are clear cut enough to justify the "Uh" at the beginning of your post. While I don't have figures at hand, launch prices appear to be in the order of US$80m-US$100m. I'm sure it costs a lot more than that to develop and build most satellites. This article [space.com] suggests value in some sort of satellite support system, though it's discussing pushing satellites into higher orbits or repairing/refueling them in space, rather than returning them to E
            • I imagine after building it once though, they'd still have the plans so it would be pretty cheap to just get the hardware and build another one. Even if they could pull a satellite out of orbit and bring it back to Earth, I think they'd rather put up an all new machine rather than send the old one back up.
              • ding-ding-ding we have a winner!

                By the time a satellite *needs* to be pulled out of orbit to be refueled/repaired, it is generally old technology worth less than the launch cost for a retrieval mission. This is why the shuttle's satellite repair function was basically unused, and why no one has bothered to even think of doing something like this.

                There are rare exceptions, but not enough of them to justify designing something to do it.
                • The only satellite retrieval mission that immediately comes to my mind was the LDEF [nasa.gov] recovery. This was no ordinary satellite, it was basically a long term expirement to see what happens to different materials when they are left out in orbit for a long time.
                  • Well, there were also the Hubble repairs, which are *similar* though not the same, and some stuff with WESTAR and PALAPA comm birds, the only two satellite retrievals that were Earth-refurbed and then relaunched. Solar Max was retrieved and repaired on orbit, as well as a couple more comm birds.

                    But basically, those missions were subsidized by NASA to test the Shuttle's facility with such mission goals - no one was willing to pay for them.
                • The interesting/expensive satellites (i.e., direct droadcast) are in Geosynch orbit, that is along way above where the shuttle can go. Unless the satellite has a builtin deorbit capability, this would be very difficult to repair.
                  • Even there, the logic remains - it would cost more to deorbit intact and repair than it would be worth to repair them. The point is that satellites are a highly technology oriented product, and like all high tech, depreciate very quickly.
    • Even though the contest will end, the knowledge and information learned will not go away. Everyone who participates will come away knowing more than they did before. And be able to use that knowledge in future projects.
    • Well the other teams can still participate in the X-Prize cup. Also, some of them have probably invested so much they want to make money out of it in one way or another.
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday August 09, 2004 @05:30AM (#9918590)
      It seems as if there's a lot of cool stuff being developed by the impetus of the prize.

      Looking at SpaceShipOne, I have to agree. But on the other hand, looking at Armadillo ....

      This had also happened on the previous 12" engine after a few runs (you could see a couple red hot catalyst rings fly out in one of the static test videos). It didn't seem to be progressive last time, so we went ahead and left it alone, expecting the test run to squash the rings down into an interference fit again.

      Rings fly out of the engine and they aren't too worried? They think rings may be loose but they expect them to squash down to interference fit again? Words fail me.

      There's good engineering and there's also appalling engineering covered in wishful thinking and viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. The X-Prize has very worthy goals, but it's sad that by setting a date and making it a race, it necessarily attracts also those who are totally out of their depth in the kind of engineering discipline required for such an endeavour.
      • so you're saying if you are out of your depth, it's sad to even try?
        • so you're saying if you are out of your depth, it's sad to even try?

          That depends on the degree to which you're out of your depth, and the risks involved.

          When you're so out of your depth that you're not even aware that you should have run complete stress and temperature simulations first, and that you should be measuring how your equipment performs and comparing it against your simulation results to be sure that you're in control, that's when it gets worrying.

          Technology is hard enough to get to work rel
  • by ferrellcat (691126) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:35AM (#9917926)
    Fortunately for us, the three dummies were Bush, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft.
    • My initial thought was, "I hope the 3 dummies were Kerry, Edwards, and Daschel". We might be from different ends of the political spectrum, but I guess aren't all that different.
  • by TigerNut (718742) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:36AM (#9917930) Homepage Journal
    The setback isn't too serious in terms of money, but you can't easily recover the five weeks required to replace the long-lead items. But, as already surmised, the experience of building the first 48" vehicle will have been invaluable and I'm sure they'll find (or commit to) a bunch of items to make improvements. One thing they already did better compared to earlier vehicles: Mass (or lack of it). The 48" vehicle was apparently slightly under the design weight, at 1000 pounds.

    Good luck to John and the rest of the crew at Armadillo.

  • Wait a second... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:37AM (#9917937)
    They want to put 3 real people in a 38 inch diameter rocket and then launch them into space?! Who in their right mind would agree to such a thing? It sounds about as much fun as riding out a hurricane in a freakin' barrel!
    • by Mia'cova (691309)
      There is a miniature and a full-size. They perhaps don't plan on flying into space inside the miniature.

      I'm having a strange flashback to Zoolander right now...
      • Well, the article I read (the first link) made no mention of it being a miniature, so I could only assume it was full-size, especially since it was apparently carrying the "real" amount of weight.
  • You'd Think... (Score:5, Informative)

    by the pickle (261584) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:37AM (#9917940) Homepage
    ...that the guys at Armadillo would be used to the /. traffic by now, having been on here so many times before.

    Sadly, it seems they have yet to learn from history. Or, perhaps, their bandwidth costs are being spent on new rocket parts.

    Well, here's a copy of the news article from Armadillo, anyway.

    Armadillo Aerospace News Archive

    Good tests, Complete loss of vehicle

    August 8, 2004 notes

    Good Tests

    On Tuesday we did a very successful set of hover tests with the big vehicle. I had two changes that I wanted to test: an optional PWM of the throttle movement to make it change position slower when it was in hunt-for-an-acceleration mode, and testing a 50% gain increase which I might enable during high speed flights if it looks like it is having a hard time controlling the attitude. I had these set up momentary overrides on the joystick, so I could lift the vehicle up, engage the change, let go real fast if it isn't working, then try the other one, all on a single propellant load.

    When we tipped the vehicle up, several catalyst rings fell out of the engine nozzle. We looked up the engine with a boroscope and found that the screen at the bottom had pulled past one section of the support plate, allowing some rings to escape. This had also happened on the previous 12" engine after a few runs (you could see a couple red hot catalyst rings fly out in one of the static test videos). It didn't seem to be progressive last time, so we went ahead and left it alone, expecting the test run to squash the rings down into an interference fit again.

    Because this was set up to be a 25 second hover (tethered), which would be our longest hover test, we decided to make this a no-direct-view test, with my flying it from behind a concrete wall looking at a monitor instead of directly viewing it. The engine warmed up fine and lifted off and hovered fine. I was about to engage the first test when the vehicle just set itself back down on the ground. It took me a few moments to figure out what happened - I had moved the computer and wireless antenna behind the wall with me, so the telemetry link was very ratty, dropping quite a few packets. Eventually it dropped enough in a row to hit the internal limit and triggered a loss-of-telemetry abort, which is an auto land. Perfect!

    I moved the antenna back in view of the vehicle, and we completed both of the control system tests without incident. We used our new propellant disposal burner to catalyze the remaining propellant, which worked pretty well. The foam coming out was probably still 10% peroxide or so, but a little water was fine for washing it away. We might consider adding a spark ignition system to it so it would completely burn everything away, but that would be a more complex system, and would leave us with a red hot propellant burner.

    When we set the vehicle back down on the cradle, a few more catalyst rings came out, but the engine still seemed to be working perfectly.

    Based on these results, I changed the flight control code to use the PWM valve movement when it is hunting back and forth past a desired acceleration. If it hasn't crossed it in 500 msec, or the desired valve position is fully open or closed, it goes back to full speed.

    We also weighed the vehicle, and surprisingly found it lighter than we had estimated, right at 1000 pounds.

    Complete Loss of Vehicle

    Saturday was a perfect day for flying, so we went out to the 100 acres for a boosted hop. We had high expectations for success, since the vehicle had been operating perfectly on all tests so far.

    After we loaded up the propellant and pressurized the vehicle, we ran into a problem. When I opened it up to 20% throttle for the warmup it looked like it cleared up fine, but the telemetry was only reading 100C, as if the hot pack hadn't started heating. We were a long way from the vehicle, so we couldn't really tell what was going on. I gave it a bu

    • sigh*...looks like Scaled Composites is still that much further along than anyone else. Honestly, does anyone think any of the other teams have a chance of beating them?
      Not any more... I stole their sparkplug wires... They'll spend weeks trying to figure it out!
    • Or perhaps (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chuck Chunder (21021)
      That the guys at Armadillo would be used to the /. traffic by now, having been on here so many times before.


      Sadly, it seems they have yet to learn from history. Or, perhaps, their bandwidth costs are being spent on new rocket parts.
      Perhaps they simply realise that their website disappearing for a short while every now and then doesn't really matter in any significant way.
    • It's a shame that no one else is in a serious position to compete (though Ansari claims they are) but it's pretty cool that Scaled is there. The prize was going to expire this year, so if they hadn't entered the running it wouldn't even be claimed.
      • The sigh was mostly because I was hoping someone who's more of a "little guy" would be a bit more competitive. Being bankrolled by Paul Allen isn't exactly pocket change. :(

        Then again, commercial aviation didn't come to the masses until some 30 years after it got started. I'm just not that patient ;)

        p
  • course nothing can escape the dreaded slashdotting... its like the evil bunnies with fangs ^^.
  • And yet... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    da Vinci is going to fly without real testing of their vehicle.

    Sounds like a lot of stupidity and/or hype.

    • They just want to appear as a real competitor to give their online casino sponsor their money's worth in attention. I bet they'll find some excuse not to fly.
  • by Viadd (173388) on Monday August 09, 2004 @01:56AM (#9918009)
    Everything else operated perfectly, so we still feel good about the general configuration
    "Apart from that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

    So you have a Loss Of Vehicle accident, and yet you are not convening an accident investigation board with six months of hearings leading to recommendations that require you to ground all flights for the next decade. You'll never become the next NASA with that attitude.
  • Consolation (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Monday August 09, 2004 @02:05AM (#9918042) Homepage Journal
    Well, if they fail the X-prize in a live run, there's always the Darwin Awards. Either way, you get an award :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2004 @02:06AM (#9918044)
    I've noticed too many slashdot articles in which the information is misrepresented, misquoted, or quoted out of context. This is yet another case... Slashdot claims that it exploded after reaching 200 feet, which is untrue. It exploded 200 feet horizontally FROM its takeoff point. If you actually had bothered to read the article, the craft approached nearly 1000 ft vertically. It was during landing that the chute failed to deploy and the craft was destroyed.

    Of course, 1000 ft isn't that impressive. However, they did produce the craft very cheaply. And, it surely could have travelled farther than 1000 ft, they were merely testing their initial design.

    My advice for the team is to attempt to test their next rocket without their dummy payload. It would be best to successfully launch and land a test craft safely before attempting to gauge their capacity for load.
  • Torrent of the video (Score:5, Informative)

    by madumas (186398) on Monday August 09, 2004 @02:36AM (#9918126)
    Here is a torrent for the 4MB video. I'll keep it up for 24-48 hours.

    48InchCrash.mpg.torrent [66.11.160.110]

    Please seed.
    • ERROR:

      Problem connecting to tracker - timeout exceeded
      It don't work. I got the file elsewhere and am seeding with that torrent on a slow uplink (128k), tho, in case you get it running.
  • the rocket, whose parachute malfunctioned, would have to be rebuilt

    Usually one DOES have to rebuild after it EXPLODES!
    • Usually one DOES have to rebuild after it EXPLODES!

      Not always true -- the other alternatives are to give up trying altogether, or design an alternate rocket (which would be built, not rebuilt).
  • mirror of video (Score:5, Informative)

    by reezle (239894) on Monday August 09, 2004 @02:38AM (#9918135) Homepage
    Let's see how long my server lasts. {Sheepish-Grin}

    VIDEO [sbnsor.com]

    (Thanks for the text-mirror earlier. It was nice to read about it, and see that they all kept their sense of humor about the situation.)
  • http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Ho me/Paraphernalia [armadilloaerospace.com]

    Check the bottom for Armadillo Droppings.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Monday August 09, 2004 @03:18AM (#9918244) Homepage
    48-inch vehicle

    This is your captain speaking, please remain remain in a seated position.

    -
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 09, 2004 @04:36AM (#9918437)
    Carmack, that's what you get for flying the rocket in complete darkness, without a helmet-mounted flashlight!

  • by appleLaserWriter (91994) on Monday August 09, 2004 @04:49AM (#9918469)
    Will North Korea be allowed to enter?
  • This is sloppy work (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ge10 (803950) on Monday August 09, 2004 @06:40AM (#9918738)
    Rocket science is not easy, but almost all of Armadillo's mishaps were due to easily forseeable problems, such as:

    *battery connectors coming off
    *no protection against inductive kickback(essential around any combination of electromechanical and electronic devices)
    *not restricting allowable user inputs (ie joystick)
    *underrated power transistors for drive unit (this is very basic stuff)
    *finally, not setting minimum fuel level for takeoff

    When you are dealing with a field as complex as this, you can't afford to make such stupid mistakes.
    • *battery connectors coming off

      OK, that was sloppy. Carmack isn't an electrical engineer. He's learnt the hard way that connectivity is important and unreliable.

      *no protection against inductive kickback(essential around any combination of electromechanical and electronic devices)

      Yup. Sloppy.

      *not restricting allowable user inputs (ie joystick)

      Borderline. They didn't expect the joystick to fail in that way, and it was the same joystick used on the simulation, which showed no problems.

      *underrated powe

      • by Ge10 (803950)
        So, they screwed that one up slightly- IRC the main problem there was a short circuit.
        I was referring to another incident, although I should have pointed out that this didn't fail during flight. If I remember correctly, the output driving an optoisolator unit was sourcing way more current than it was rated for. Carmack was quite flippant about it afterwards, and it didn't seem to occur to him that even a cursory check would have uncovered that problem ahead of time.
  • Bah! Amateurs! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JohnPM (163131) on Monday August 09, 2004 @07:02AM (#9918798) Homepage
    Can someone explain what is amateur about these enterprises? Just because they're not government funded or making a profit doesn't mean they're not professional.

    Maybe it's the fact they crashed?... :]
    • Re:Bah! Amateurs! (Score:3, Informative)

      by Entrope (68843)
      The dictionary can explain perfectly well. Doing it professionally means it is your profession, your bread and butter. Burt Rutan's crew seems to qualify as professionals, although their investors expect to lose money on the X-Prize pursuit. An amateur is someone who does it for fun or as a hobby. Armadillo Aerospace may (or may not) be as expert as the professionals, but they are an amateur operation because they pay the bills with other pursuits.
  • I think (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X (13249) on Monday August 09, 2004 @08:51AM (#9919195)
    These events speak for themselves. It's frightening to see launch tests take place.

    NASA spent such a rediculously large amount of money testing and building rockets, as did the russians. Some might say that's exactly the problem. But both agencies had a number of spectacular failures. To this day there is no rocket in existance that has a 100% success rate.

    That should be an indication that it's extremely difficult to build and launch rockets. I'm just worried about when someone actually gets in one of their own personal roman candles, hoping to make it to the edge of space they will find themselves going home in a body bag.

    I'd say in general that the X-Prize should have some rules around who and how people compete. The real key is having A) Money B) Talent. The foundation should at least provide talent, expert guidance and such. Money, can come from sponsors etc. I just think the foundation has an obligation to ensure the safety of the teams competing.

    Hope and optimism can be very dangerous, especially in the context of engineering.
    • Re:I think (Score:2, Informative)

      by shayera (518168)
      well, depending on your definition of existance, I call your attention towards the glorious Saturn rockets, especialy Saturn V
      No Saturns went boom, and for those saying "what about them astronauts what got themselves fried", well however tragic it was, it's not really the rockets fault, that the capsule atop a nonfueled rocket decides to burn itself out.

      I'm sure that if one takes a lot of time to search archives, there are other rocket types that have experienced no booms, but admittedly it seems to be qui
    • I'm just worried about when someone actually gets in one of their own personal roman candles, hoping to make it to the edge of space they will find themselves going home in a body bag.

      Umm... Unless you saw another crash other than the one I did, they'd be going home in a chinese take-out box, rather than a body bag...
    • Re:I think (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday August 09, 2004 @09:35AM (#9919470)
      That should be an indication that it's extremely difficult to build and launch rockets. I'm just worried about when someone actually gets in one of their own personal roman candles, hoping to make it to the edge of space they will find themselves going home in a body bag.

      This doesn't concern me a bit. Everyone has the right to go out with a bang (literally, in this case) if they wish.

      I am, however, concerned about the possibility that they take a non-consenting soul with them - crashing on someone's house would be a bad thing (for the owners of the house - the guy in the rocket knew what he was risking when he pushed the big red button).

      • I think my beef is with the X Prize foundation. Just offering a whacker of cash to achive the goal of sub-orbital flight isn't enough. They should be doing more to help the people reach the goal - and in the process help ensure a greater degree of safety. Given the places where they are testing their rockets, e.g. Mojave - I think you won't end up with too much "collateral damage".
        • Re:I think (Score:3, Insightful)

          Why should the Foundation provide technical assistance? It's not really their business to "help people reach the goal".

          It's not like the fundamental concepts are top secret or anything. Hell, the patents on most of it have expired. It shouldn't be all that hard for a halfway competent engineer to get something working, given enough coin to make a reasonable effort (I'd have guessed 50M before SS1 flew. Now I'd have to put the floor down around the 20M SS1 actually cost).

          Big problem with the Foundation

  • $20,000
    38" diameter
    23' length
    3 dummies

    The only thing I can picture is that they bought a big piece of metal conduit, stacked three dummies in it vertically, welded on a nosecone, and packed the bottom with solid fuel.

  • by MouseR (3264) on Monday August 09, 2004 @08:43PM (#9925528) Homepage
    First Armadillo crashes a test vehicle, and THEN you link a video off their site directly on /., ultimately crashing their server.

    You sick 'dillo.

Going the speed of light is bad for your age.

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