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Rockets of Doom From Carmack And Friends 62

Clark Lindsey writes: "John Carmack of Id Software fame has gotten deep into serious amateur rocketry. His Armadillo Aerospace web site gives regular status reports on the efforts of his team of mostly volunteers in building very low cost VTVL (Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing) hydrogen peroxide rocket vehicles. Last week he gave an impressive presentation at the Space Access Society meeting with a description of the progress made in their incremental development of remotely controlled vehicles that will eventually lead to a manned (suborbital) version."

The Space Access Society is worth checking out, anyhow, if you're interested in leaving earth without a NASA ticket -- their mission is to promote "to promote radically cheaper access to space, ASAP." The Armadillo Aerospace site also has one of the coolest-looking Linux machines I've seen yet, but there's no accounting for taste.

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Rockets of Doom From Carmack And Friends

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was sort of planning on submitting an article about the whole process at some point, but it looks like I got preempted.

    I would still be very interested in an article on the whole process.

    Knowing nothing about rockets, just reading your meeting notes leaves me pretty clueless but very interested in a more general discussion of it all.

  • ...but not before ritualistically burning the leaves...;)
  • evil_spork's comment was hilarious. Just in case it stays at -1:

    By posting news associated with Doom, Quake, and others, you are encouraging young readers of this site to take railguns and rocket launchers to school and shoot their classmates. That is a truly awful thing and I don't see how any of you can live with that on your conscience. And they can't really sue Slashdot over it because VA Linux doesn't have any assets, so any families of children shot over this probably won't receive any compensation. And that's just sick, so you should all be ashamed.


  • It's funny how every geek thinks that they are better looking than the rest of the geeks out there.

    Would you like a Python based alternative to PHP/ASP/JSP?
  • Moderation Totals:Offtopic=4, Funny=2, Total=6

    Analysis: 4 people obviously have no sense of humor.

    I can't even believe you guys wasted your moderation points on this...


  • au contraire, he's probably still po'd at Romero for splitting and cackling wickedly every time Daikatana comes up in conversation. "Say, John, I hear you had some trouble with frogs in your yard ... " Bwahahahahaha....
  • Well then by all means discount everything else redeeming about the guy. I assume you are qualified to make that judgement because everyone thinks you're the man, right? Fucking elitist bullshit. I suppose all that time he wasn't spending conforming to your standard of cooth he was building a multimillion dollar software company. Too bad he doesn't talk as cool as you, but then again you are probably the assistant manager at a discount carpet outlet or something. I bet he wouldn't trade lives with you. Add to that that you made this comment anonymously, and I'd say that you have very little that anyone is this forum wants to really hear anyway.
  • I don't think you understand the complaint about Microsoft, but don't worry, most people that have it don't either. What qualifies him as 'cool' I suppose is that he does more than worry about his speech patterns and if he sounds "like a flamer". I don't expect you to understand, but if you like I will try to explain it better.
  • First marriage, and now hobbies?

  • Why is this marked flamebait and offtopic. I was being pretty serious. I thought those ID guys where big into Linux. For them to trust Windows really makes me wonder about all the good things they have said about Linux.

    until (succeed) try { again(); }
  • Doubt that they run on water, but diesel engines do run on just about anything thin and oily.
    Remember the Soya oil-powered Harley [slashdot.org]?
    Biofuels are great. The engine still produces CO2 as an exhaust gas, but all you're doing is putting back the CO2 the soya plants took out.
    General Rommel apparently used cooking oil to fuel his tanks when they ran out of diesel in the North African battles.
  • Carmack is a really cool guy. There are some really really really rich people that dont do anything interesting, and some that do. More power to those that do!
  • ...pity it seems more ego than id now
  • id (which, for some reason, prefers to spell its name in all lower case)

    I always thought this was to keep people from thinking it was I.D. ( as in: "please show me some I.D." ), because it is not supposed to be that but rather id ( as in the psychological term: ego / id ). And keeping the name in all lowercase was to aid in the clarity of that. I might be wrong, of course, but that's always been my thinking about it.

  • ...why weren't any of these rockets featured in Doom? I woulda liked to have a large model rocket to shoot at the monsters.
  • Peroxide as a monofuel is pretty cool in some
    ways (only makes water and oxygen as exhaust),
    but its horribly dangerous. It instantly ignites
    on contact with organic material.

    There was a cool project to use H202 as a fuel

    see: http://www.discover.com/mar_01/feattech.html

    I know a relative of said eccentric American
    engineer and saw a videotape of the machine a
    few years ago. I guess one test pilot died
    during the development of the minicoptor. I
    think it was the H202 that got on him and burned
    him to death.

    You gotta' be careful with that stuff!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    He kinda reminds me of a combination of both Pinky and the Brain from the cartoon show. He's kinda got the same NARF!! speech impediment, and I'm pretty sure this rocket business is part of his plan for World Domination.
    ...one is a genius, the other's insane...
  • It's no joke... It's true that video games influence human behavior. Next we'll read that Carmack was caught yelling "Quad Damage" at K-MART while shopping.

  • This story isn't a good idea for Carmack - just on the PR level alone it's fucking awful [Insert your reason here].
    I'm sure John's neighbours we're already on red alert with this guy :)

    Have you noticed most posts have been anonymous? It's because John is scaring the shit out of people!

    come off crisp and play up to the cynic
    clean and schooled right down to the minute

  • I downloaded the simulator, and the 2d one worked fine. I couldn't figure out the the controls on the 3d one, though. I jammed all the keys on the keyboard, and nothing happened. How do you use it?
  • how sensible - as a recreational HPR flier it's great to see a really incremental approach - too many people seem to want to go the all-or-nothing route base their dreams on a single design and never get there or even close (JPA is IMHO another group who are doing this stuff in a wonderfully incremental way - lots of small steps rather than one biggy).

    On the other hand 3 years? maybe a little optimistic .... but them maybe we'll see you at BlackRock for a manned launch one year :-)

  • It was developed by id, and published by Apogee.

    http://www.3drealms.com/keenhistory/ [3drealms.com]

  • Hummers only run on diesel, and anything else that can pretend to be diesel. Kerosene works, but it doesn't lubricate well and it increases wear on the injection system. It's also full of grit, if you use heating-grade kerosene, and this is enough to clog filters and stop your engine, unless you're careful.

    The only "non-diesel" fuel a mil vehicle is ever likely to meet these days is jet (or jet turbine) fuel. Guess what - this is just kerosene with an aviation industry pricetag - works fine.

    You can't use petrol (gasoline) in a Hummer, because of the fire hazard (and some _really_ crappy design mistakes, especially around the radio fitment). If you have to use it, SOP is to dilute it with diesel or kerosene. OTOH, it's a bit safer than the British Landrover design with the tanks under the seats and the leaky fillers - roll one of those and your ass was barbecued immediately - four cadets were killed in a single year, due to rollover accidents.

    Marine diesel fuel (big ships) looks like treacle. You won't even get it into the tank, unless you warm it up.

    The real purpose of military multi-fuellers isn't to run on alternative fuels, but to run on very poor qualities of the standard fuels. If you want to see how this should really work, look at the Leyland L60 engine in the Chieftain [british-forces.com] tank (a '50s design that served into the '80s) - that really would run on anything. Even marine bunker fuel worked, if you could only pump it in there.

  • Until a year and a half ago, I hadn't thought about space and (real) rockets since I was a kid.

    Hey, somebody has to get us off this rock. I'm fairly sure you're nuts (manned rocket flight in two years?) but it still sounds cool as hell. :) Wish I had the personal bandwidth to help out!

    (and our site is slashdotted)...

    Per aspera ad astra, right?
  • OK,

    I have to point out first that peroxide is not and can not act as a fuel. It is a propellant. A bit pedantic, but understanding the chemistry of this situation is important. Especially if you want to use the stuff and survive the experience.

    Hydrogen peroxide is quite safe if you know what you are doing. The handling of it is no more onerous than for LOX - just different. It is the safest monopropellant known, and the easiest to get.

    As a monoprop, its performance is not great. Most engines can hope for an ISP of 180 seconds.

    As an oxidizer, it is quite cool. An engine can catalyze peroxide, liberating much heat - at rocket pressures, somewhere above 1600 deg. F. This, combined with the oxygen now available (2 H2O2 -> 2 H20 + O2 + heat) will ignite any hydrocarbon you care to inject. Beale chose kerosene (well, perhaps JP1, but it's pretty much equivalent.)

    The advantage of this combination is a lack of cryogens. That allows you to store the propellants without heavy insulation. The denser propellants also lower gravity losses during launch.

    Pressure fed is easier. It is also lower in performance. The decision is an engineering compromise among weight, performance, and complexity.

    The German ME163 used peroxide and a special fuel. The fuel was mostly methanol, but was spiked with potassium permagenate. This chemical catalyzes peroxide. If the two propellants met, they ignited. That's why it was a pain to use, and accidents tended to lead to death.

    Peroxide, IMHO, has a bad rap from early experiments without the purity and procedures available today. I have seen 90% H2O2 run through an engine, and breathed aerosols of the uncatalyzed propellant. It burns on the skin, and tastes quite bitter. I survived, and didn't even get white spots from it bleaching my skin. When I felt the burn, I poured water on the spots - that diluted the peroxide and ended the danger. Wear the right protection and know how to deal with the problems and peroxide is a great propellant.
  • Doing something like hypersonic kinetic kill missile guidance still sounds, uh, non-trivial.

    That means "fucking hard" to all you non-geniuses out there.
  • >>The difficulty of guidance and control is overrated.

    ...but should not be underestimated, either.
    While I agree you're doing this right to make
    it work (for your application), you did show
    us quite a number of stability failures in
    the video slideshow...
  • If this experiment is like this nasa link, then it's apparently not all about the hydrogen peroxide which could be a lot of fun, but aint exactly hi-tech
    The nasa deal was all about using boron. Apparently peroxide produces a smoky plume, but this was a very clean green flame.
    This struck me as pretty intriguing right away because I got my first A in college in glassblowing. And as you will recall from your glassblowing classes, it's the boron that makes the glass that you have to use the oxygen torch on.
    There's something interesting about boron for sure and that's what this nasa deal was all about. If Carmack is going along those lines, this could be some interesting stuff.
  • Basically because peroxide is horribly nasty stuff. The german rocket people would fuel up the peroxide tanks, drive the peroxide truck away a few miles, wash everything down, and then bring in the catalyst truck to complete the fueling process. I can't remember what the catalyst was right now (maybe kerosene?), but the procedure was really dangerous. The peroxide you buy in the drugstore is 5% h2o2, while the rocket fuel is something like 90%.
  • I always liked the snickers rocket approch.

    A candy bar contains roughly the equvilant energy of a stick of dynamite, it's just a bit tricker to get that energy out. First you take powedered oxygen. (It's not really pure oxygen, but some sort of oxydizer in a very compact form) As you heat it up the the oxygen is released. Drop in the snickers bar, and boom, combustion. Don't feel like blowing your face off? M&M's are a perfect pelet sized fuel.

    The oxygen wants to burn so bad it rips apart the sugars in the candy bar and goes boom. Sorta like if you take two blocks of dry ice and put a strip of flamable metal inbetween, say magnesium. (sp?) Light one end of the strip and it will burn to the other side despit the lack of oxygen. Take apart the two blocks of dry ice and you'll find a black line when the metal was. The metal wanted to burn so bad, it literaly striped the oxygen outta the C02 leaving the carbon behind. Very cool, give it a try.

    Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.
  • by CaseyB ( 1105 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:20AM (#256703)
    Does he wear his big brother's football helmet while launching these rockets too?

    Could be.

    From Early design notes for the first manned vehicle [armadilloaerospace.com]:

    Near term stuff to get / work on

    • ...
    • PVC bunny suit
    • Life preservers
    • Helmet (I have one)
  • by Thag ( 8436 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:36AM (#256704) Homepage

    The one thing I always found interesting is how all the other team sports seem to end up having a fight with the other team at some point during the year. But not the rifle teams.

    Not surprising. A rifle range is one of the few bastions of genuine politeness left.

    "Hmm," you say to yourself, "everyone in this room has a real live gun and it's loaded with real live ammunition. In theory, this means that the only thing keeping me alive is the continued good will of my fellow man. I will, therefore, do all that is within my power to engender such good will!"

    Jon Acheson

  • by hugg ( 22953 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:47PM (#256705)

    Need new moderator status:

    +9999 (Carmack)

  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:35AM (#256706)
    Vertical takeoff at rest and Vertical landing
    at 120 mph (terminal velocity). Yup, I used
    to build those too.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:05AM (#256707) Journal

    http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/ElectronicsBox_f iles/image002.jpg [armadilloaerospace.com]

    Viewed source on the webpage. It wouldn't load from the page. It's full of wierd XML stuff. Maybe that's the problem.

  • by bitchx ( 322767 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:52AM (#256708)
    Sorry - I just want to make a minor correction.

    Carmack does not promise weightlessness, rather he's shooting for the view first, and free-fall weightlessness afterwards. His orbital timeframe, if I remember correctly, was around 15 years - there are other, better prospects on that timeframe - the japanese project, detailed earlier on slashdot. I'm not going to be redundant and link it - every fing karma whore already did that.
    In fact, everyone who linked that slashdot story should get marked redundant.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:20AM (#256709)
    It's the obvious joke, but someone had to make it... :-)
  • by Justin Wake ( 5568 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:49AM (#256710)
    Somebody should stop him, we don't need anyone associated with Doom *anywhere* near our lunar or martian bases...

    Yeah, wouldn't you hate to be the poor sod working in the 'underground command centre', who has to trek 25 miles from the station entrance every day to get to work thanks to the wonderful linear design of the base?
  • by Levine ( 22596 ) <levineNO@SPAMgoatse.cx> on Monday April 30, 2001 @01:54PM (#256711) Homepage
    When virtual reality just isn't enough.

    Maybe one of these will tear a MetLife blimp.
  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:53AM (#256712) Homepage
    Now if we could get Estees to mass produce some of these ideas, we could get some newer models and ideas.

    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by kosipov ( 218202 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:30AM (#256713)
    I think it is an interesting symbolism that Carmack is involved in design of rockets for cheap access to space.

    In many science fiction books there are two trends for the near future (there are a lot more but these are two major ones). Distopia is typically presented by heavily cybernetic society where the humanity is not really concerned about space. The other trend, is diametrically opposite with humanity focused on space exploration.

    Carmack is in a sense a protagonist of future distopia as a designer of cybernetic worlds that are becoming increasingly important to our society (graphics acceleration business, even Columbine). People like Carmack working on rockets is a sign that our future does not have to be a choice between space and cyberspace.
  • by Tappah ( 224124 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:38AM (#256714)
    >>The difficulty of guidance and control is overrated. I think that rather depends, on whether we are discussing a "proof of concept" vehicle tethered to the ground, or a vehicle with sufficient thrust and mass to achieve an altitude deserving of interest. Perhaps the article misstated the (ultimate) goal of manned VTVL flight using low-cost peroxide motors, I assumed it had not. However, even with a "low and slow" craft, I wouldn't consider the control system necessary to maintain stable flight simple. Even minor angular velocities in a fixed motor craft can be difficult to deal with, and require robust systems to deal with them appropriately. Having experimented in the past with telemetry guidance based on fin deflection, I can attest how readily (and quickly) a rocket powered vehicle becomes a lawndart. Given the difficulties in maintaining thrust accross multiple motors (especially motors subject to flow deviations due to fluid effects, corrosive effects of H2O2 on metallic surfaces (including stainless), etc), simple, it ain't gonna be. Regardless, I'm keenly interested in such projects, and look forward to reading reports of your progress (assuming the site ever gets un-slashdotted). I have a god-awful yen to begin messing about with a bi-fuel craft myself.
  • by airuck ( 300354 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:33AM (#256715)
    If you want to see the independant aerospace program that really rocks, then check out JP Aerospace [jpaerospace.com]. They are testing a helium balloon based platform and a microsat launcher. My bets are on them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:31AM (#256716)
    You can see parts of Carmac's Ferraris on this picture! http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/Vtvl2.jpg [armadilloaerospace.com]
  • by Thag ( 8436 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:58AM (#256717) Homepage
    The big deal about using hydrogen peroxide as fuel is the simplicity of the engine design. All you have to do is run the peroxide (which is, btw, far, far more concentrated than what you buy at the drugstore) over a platinum mesh, and there is a catalyzed reaction and the stuff goes off.

    Combine that with a simple, pressurized fuel tank instead of turbopumps, and you have a rocket engine with the minimum of moving parts. Perfect for a technology demonstrator that's more about the other parts of the system than the rocket itself.

    The late, lamented Beal Aerospace [bealaerospace.com] was building a big booster rocket by scaling up this technology, and with a fair degree of success. (Then NASA stomped them flat by announcing a "civilian space launch initiative" that would have amounted to subsidizing Beal's competitors. Beal closed up shop.) Read the Space Access Society's pages [space-access.org] to see what they think of NASA these days.

    For more fun with peroxide rockets, see here [tecaeromex.com].

    Jon Acheson
  • by Ice Tiger ( 10883 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:11AM (#256718)
    By itself a mono propellant has a horrendous ISP, which is a measure of the effeciency of a rocket motor. It does however make a good oxidiser for Hybrid motors, which have a liquid oxidiser and solid fuel in the chamber, plastic is a good fuel.
  • by Bothari ( 34939 ) <gcarvalho@@@netcabo...pt> on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:57AM (#256719)
    ID did *all* of the commander keens, apogee was *only* the publisher.

    Carmack, Romero and a third gentleman whose name i don't recall created ID so as to be able to sell publishing rights of Keen to apogee.

    Keen was created to demonstrate a cool new scrolling algorithm which Carmack had come up with...

    They did the game in 3 months on their spare time.

    Yes, I know I ramble and my spelling isn't quite up to scratch. If you wish to complain,
  • by stras ( 49620 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @07:38AM (#256720)
    All you have to do is run the peroxide (which is, btw, far, far more concentrated than what you buy at the drugstore)

    Very true -- HTP is very unpleasant stuff. One speck of the wrong kind of impurity in your tank, and the whole thing goes up.

    Combine that with a simple, pressurized fuel tank instead of turbopumps, and you have a rocket engine with the minimum of moving parts.

    Yeah, and atrocious performance, too.

    Pressure-fed rockets are much simpler than pump-fed ones -- they have many, many, fewer moving parts -- but they require very substantial tanks, since the tank pressure has to be greater than the combustion chamber pressure in order for the propellant to flow. Since, for weight reasons, you can't want to make your tanks out of 1 inch thick steel, you're stuck with fairly low chamber pressures, and the resulting low thrust.

    On top of that, monopropellant peroxide has a very low specific impulse. SMAD3 [smad.com] doesn't give an ISP for mono-H2O2, but it does give a value for "Monopropellant (H2O2, N2H2, etc)" as 150-225 s; combining this with some other information would suggest that H2O2 is at the lower end of this scale.

    Beal et. al. got around this by running their rockets off H2O2 and LOX; SMAD has no numbers for this kind of engine, but Mark Wade's [astronautix.com] site gives numbers from 250-300 s for Beal's design. This is quite respectable, but has the downside of requiring a (mildly) cryogenic oxidizer.

  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:36AM (#256721)
    I don't have an orbital timeframe. There are too many things I need to learn before I can make a credible estimate.

    The timeframe I do have is:

    Year 1: work out all the kinks in the VTVL demonstrator.

    Year 2: manned rocket ships and ballistic flight, but still rather low altitudes.

    Year 3: space (100km) shots, both unmanned and manned

    John Carmack
  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @10:42AM (#256722)
    The throttle is manual, but attitude control is computer managed. The joystick input gives a target angle, and the computer deals with rates and pulses to try and get it there. Manual control of a differentially throttled vehicle is extremely difficult (the simulator allows you to try).

    CG/CP is irrelevent for this vehicle, because it isn't designed to go fast enough that aerodynamics are a factor.

    Four fixed position engines can give full 3 axis control if you are tricky about it. Opposite pairs of engines are canted a few degrees so that one pair of engines gives a slight positive roll, and the other pair of engines gives a slight negative roll. This does mean that there is a cross couple for every pitch or yaw adjustment, but with an order of magnitude difference between them, it is easy to correct out.

    The difficulty of guidance and control is overrated.

    John Carmack
  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:23AM (#256723)
    I should ammend myself, and say that the difficulty AT LOW SPEEDS is not that bad. Removing aerodynamic factors simplifies things a lot.

    Doing something like hypersonic kinetic kill missile guidance still sounds, uh, non-trivial.

    John Carmack
  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @11:36AM (#256724)
    I should mention that really, all of this work can be traced back to slashdot.

    Until a year and a half ago, I hadn't thought about space and (real) rockets since I was a kid.

    I started reading slashdot for the open source coverage, but the occasional space story and the comments on them led me to the CATS prize and the other things going on in the space community.

    I spent a year learning the engineering aspects and funding a few things that I considered interesting (JP Aerospace, SORAC, Space Frontier Foundation, and XCOR), and the last six months actually doing something myself.

    I was sort of planning on submitting an article about the whole process at some point, but it looks like I got preempted (and our site is slashdotted)...

    John Carmack
  • by gnalle ( 125916 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:47AM (#256725)
    Have a look at the water rocket page [compuserve.com] and a very nice page about the rocket equations [execpc.com]. There is also a good page on howstuffworks [howstuffworks.com]
  • by Gigs ( 127327 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:56AM (#256726) Homepage Journal
    By posting news associated with Doom, Quake, and others, you are encouraging young readers of this site to take railguns and rocket launchers to school and shoot their classmates. That is a truly awful thing and I don't see how any of you can live with that on your conscience... And that's just sick, so you should all be ashamed.

    I have to laugh everytime I read about the problems with guns in school. I shot on the school rifle team for 4 years. Thats right I shot a gun every day for four years in a school building. Yup in a school building, and before you jump on that its called a bullet trap it will safely stop a 30 caliber round. Right in the basement of the school Autitorium. The one thing I always found interesting is how all the other team sports seem to end up having a fight with the other team at some point during the year. But not the rifle teams.

    Maybe if John is successful we can launch all the liberals to another planet so that the can run themselves and there socialist ideas in to the ground somewhere else...

    Remember Peace through superior firepower does work!
  • by oingoboingo ( 179159 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:21AM (#256727)
    John Carmack of Id Software fame has gotten deep into serious amateur rocketry

    I knew Carmack must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel for new ideas when he announced Doom III, but this is way too close to Commander Keen for my liking. Does he wear his big brother's football helmet while launching these rockets too?

    (btw: was it Apogee or id (or both) that did the original Commander Keen?)

  • by egjertse ( 197141 ) <slashdot&futt,org> on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:42AM (#256728) Homepage
    Yup, I'd imagine Carmack has a thing or two to teach those amateurs at NASA. Bet they'd be real interested in the portable rocket launcher, for instance. And I bet the US Army would be thrilled to lay their hands on a BFG2K.
  • by Tappah ( 224124 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @09:02AM (#256729)
    As a rocketry (and Quake) buff myself, I looked over John's pages with a great deal of interest. The project seems rather ambitious, particularly with regards to the VTOL aspects of it. However, I'm curious whether VTOL can be reasonably obtained using presurized monofuel rockets, and completely skeptical that it can be accomplished using any form of potentiometer (joystick) control. It occurs to me that there are (at least) several significant obstacles to overcome.

    1. Providing 3-axis stability, given a limited number of vertical (or tangential) thrust vectors, as opposed to an almost unlimited number of external de-stabilizing forces.

    2. CP changes caused by the expulsion of fuel

    3. Difficulty in calibrating throttle response combined with slow control input/response cycles (made that much worse by the inherent latency of telemetry transmission)

    I'd guess, that their ultimate intent is to provide some form of on-board stabilization system, with off-board control primarily manipulating the vehicles post-balance trajectory, while the vehicle itself controls pitch,roll, and yaw through some form of accelerometer feedback mechanism. The mathematics necessary for manipulating all those angular differentials ought to be enough to give even John a trial or three. Non-trivial.

    The design of the vehicle itself should be interesting as well, since ideally, you'd want all the motors in the same plane with the CP - which unfortunately causes a wider sectional, and increases drag, thus increasing the fuel and power requirements.

    Sounds like something that would be a lot of fun to work on though. I wonder who they have in mind as the ultimate first pilot? Flying this thing ought to make tooling up 635 in rush hour look like sleeping :)

  • by dtobias ( 262347 ) <dan@tobias.name> on Monday April 30, 2001 @05:56AM (#256730) Homepage

    Tom Hall was the other original id [idsoftware.com] programmer. Adrian Carmack (no relation to John), an artist, was also part of the original group. At the time they founded id (which, for some reason, prefers to spell its name in all lower case), they were working for Softdisk [softdisk.com], then a publisher of monthly diskmagazines (now an ISP and web developer as well as online software seller), based in Shreveport, Louisiana. I know about this because I worked there at the time, and hence was a co-worker of the original id crew; I still didn't know they were working on the side to found their own company until they all quit at once -- the boss was really angry!

  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:49AM (#256731) Homepage

    The German U-791's [navy.mil] used Hydrogen Peroxide for fuel, and I wonder if NASA altogether dropped [nasa.gov] this idea. Would be interesting to see someone power a car on peroxide and test the environmental hazards involved.

    Well hopefully Carmack can get it up and going soon, maybe he can get people like Tito to give him 20 million to send them to space.

    countdown continues [antioffline.com]

  • by number one duck ( 319827 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @04:22AM (#256732) Journal
    Somebody should stop him, we don't need anyone associated with Doom *anywhere* near our lunar or martian bases...
  • by bitchx ( 322767 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:32AM (#256733)
    Carmack's presenetation was interesting, to say the least. His project is not the most interesting contender from an engineering standpoint, but the remote control vehicles looked more than adequate for the purposes intended.

    Certainly, Carmack's thoughts on timing for moderatly inexpensive (I think his "expense" standards are broken, but whatever) spaceflight are optomistic, but if the inventor of doom says I get weightlessness, I expect weightlessness.

    I think the real problem, however, is in carmack's approach - he's aiming for a suborbital manned shot first, before he goes for a true orbit - whereas the prospace people (they have a good update here [space-access.org] are aiming direct for a full orbital launch in the next 5-7 years at costs in the affordable range for well off people (as long as you don't get hit with the AMT [reformamt.org] as opposed to the incredibly rich (where it is now [slashdot.org])

  • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Monday April 30, 2001 @06:23AM (#256734) Homepage

    I'd bet money his interest stems from a desire to shoot all remaining copies of "Daikatana" out into space, so future generations will have no record of the game's existence.

    However, I don't think that's really the kind of impression we want to give aliens of Earth.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)