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Rocket Racing League Showcases New X-Racers 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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Rocket Racing League Showcases New X-Racers

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  • Interesting.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:22PM (#32005484) Homepage Journal
    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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ranzear ( 1082021 )
      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.
      • Curse the ubiquity of BBCode.
      • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) *

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

      • Re:Interesting.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:51PM (#32005732) Journal

        > 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      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.
      • 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.

    • 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

  • 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?
    • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:34PM (#32005596)

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

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:45PM (#32005698) Journal

      > 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.

    • by stjobe ( 78285 )

      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.

      • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) *
        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-pac

  • Rocket Race (Score:3, Funny)

    by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @06:59PM (#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.

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      > "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.

  • by Wacky_Wookie ( 683151 ) on Tuesday April 27, 2010 @08:39PM (#32006974) Homepage Journal

    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? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hackus ( 159037 )

    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 exa

    • Hehe.

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

    • by thijsh ( 910751 )
      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. :)
  • 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 - th

You will never amount to much. -- Munich Schoolmaster, to Albert Einstein, age 10