A US rocketeer's mighty thruster has thundered to 121,000ft above Nevada, in the process returning some seriously impressive footage. Derek Deville's Qu8k soared from the launchpad at Black Rock Desert on 30 September. Here's the full-fat vid of the mission, and there's a shorter version right here: Qu8k was built to take a …
Anybody else find this slightly worrying?
There's no doubt that this is a marvellous achievement, when used for good (or at least: when used for personal goals and to feed wow! onto the internet). But let's fast-forward and consider what happens when a private individual has the means to add a guidance system to this - say a heat-seeking system. When does a home-project (albeit a piggin' expensive and very sophisticated one) become a Mach-3 missile - and if this guy can build one, who else could?
How about looking at it the other way round, and saying that now people have seen that this is technically feasible, how long before the whole 'space exploration' thing is taken out of the hands of governments, and put into the hands of private individuals and companies?
The major world governments have been talking of missions to Mars for decades - but how far have they got?
And on a different note, why is it that whenever something new appears on the scene, the first thing SOME people think of is its military applications?
> Anybody else find this slightly worrying
Any terrorist with the brains to build this would have the brains to realise it is a crap terrorist weapon. It is expensive, complicated, will not take a large warhead and is likely to get you noticed by the authorities. Plus working guidance is bloody hard.
A white van with a massive fertiliser bomb gets you much more impact for a fraction of the effort.
3 main problems to overcome
1. control surfaces and flight control software are non-trivial
2. need a highly insensate, low weight, high energy payload (this will probably be toxic, difficult to manufacture, or supply is tightly controlled)
3. budget would have been in excess of USD$100k; a Tomahawk costs USD$570k ( which is within the same order of magnitude and has already solved problem 1 & 2 )
It's a universal constant
People will die at the hands of other human beings. But it will be quite hard to conceal a ballistic missile launch, or to deny a role in it, and so the perpetrators will go to jail for a very long time. If they're stupid enough to launch from a different country, then they can expect airstrikes or a ballistic missile in response.
So we have to rely on the innate goodness and self-preservation of humans. It's the same reason we don't have (too many) incidents of people driving cars at high speed into crowds.
There was that Australian bloke who nearly managed to make a Cruise missle for about $5k, although that was with a pulse jet, so would probably be significantly slower than a Tomahawk.
Very slight or not at all.
Missiles have civilian and military applications, but is not a very good tool for terrorism.
Any person with some knowledge, i.e. people that are able to build rockets like that, can usually think of easier ways to kill thousands and for less than a few hundred quid.
No, I will not come with examples to prove my point. It would be oddly disturbing to see those examples realized at a later stage. Besides even though Moderatix has been replaced I still expect it would be moderated away.
See? Happy face. Don't worry, be happy.
Some might say that there is not much real gain from exploring space, but what should be quite clear is that the majority of said gains is to learn how to. The advancements in science and technology we need to actually get stuff out there and to operate out there often tend to be much larger than the advancements we get from the exploring itself.
So you want to take this out of the hands of the governments, i.e. us, and give it to private companies. However I expect that you mean that the governments, again us, should pay for it. So you want us to fund private companies to make technological advancements? Why exactly?
Australian? EXCUSE ME?
As a New Zealander, like the Interesting Projects chap, I am deeply offended.
[[When does a home-project become a Mach-3 missile]]
Looks like about 6 seconds after takeoff.
No. As the Chinese, Germans et al. found out the hard way, there is a very large difference between an unguided rocket and a homing missile.
Besides that, rocket launches are hard to do subtly.
Pulsejet == Doodlebug (V2)
@The First Dave
Doodlebug == V-1
V-2 == liquid-propellant ballistic missile
(Sound: Church bells, lots of them, ringing.)
Man: I wish those bloody bells would stop.
Wife: Oh, it's quite nice dear, it's Sunday, it's the church.
M: What about us atheists? Why should we 'ave to listen to that sectarian turmoil?
W: You're a lapsed atheist, dear.
M: The principle's the same. The Mohmedans don't come 'round here wavin' bells at us! We don't get Buddhists playing bagpipes in our bathroom! Or Hindus harmonizing in the hall! The Shintus don't come here shattering sheet glass in the shithouse, shouting slogans-
W: All right, don't practice your alliteration on me.
M: Anyway, when I membership card and blazer badge back from the League of Agnostics, I shall urge the executive to lodge a protest against that religious racket! Pass the butter knife!
M: PASS THE BUTTER KNIFE!! (pause) THANK YOU! IF ONLY WE HAD SOME KIND OF MISSILE!
W: 'OLD ON, I'LL CLOSE THE WINDOW.
W: I SAID, I'LL CLOSE THE WINDOW!
(Sound: Window closing, bells get faint, but are still there)
M: If only we had some kind of missile, we could take the steam out of those bells.
W: Well, you could always use the number 14-St. Joseph-the-somewhat- divine-on-the-hill ballistic missile. It's in the attic.
M: What ballistic missile would this be, then?
(Sound: Bells begin to get increasingly louder)
W: I made it for you, it's your birthday present!
M: Just what I wanted, 'ow nice of you to remember, my pet. 'ERE!
M: THOSE BELLS ARE GETTING LOUDER!
M: THOSE BELLS ARE GETTING LOUDER!!
W: THE BELLS ARE GETTING LOUDER! OOOH, LOOK!
W: THE CHURCH, IT.. ITS COMING CLOSER! ITS COMING DOWN THE 'ILL!
M: WHAT A LIBERTY!
W: ITS TURNING INTO OUR LANE! WELL, YOU BETTER GO PUT IT OUT OF IT'S MISERY.
M: WHERE'S THIS MISSILE, THEN?
W: IT'S IN THE ATTIC. PRESS THE BUTTON MARKED CHURCH!
M: 'OW DO I AIM IT?
W: IT AUTOMATICALLY HOMES IN ON THE NEAREST PLACE OF WORSHIP!
M: BUT THAT'S ST. MARKS!
W: IT ISN'T NOW, LOOK!! OH, ITS OP'NING THE GATE.
M: WHAT? USE THE MEGAPHONE!
W: IT'S OP'NING THE GATE!! 'HURRY UP, ITS TRAMPLING OVER THE AZALIAS!
(Sound: Missle launch, explosion, bells diminish)
M: Did I 'it it?
W: Yes, right up the aisle.
M: Well I've always said, There's nothing an agnostic can't do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in anything or not.
Kudos to those guys.
That footage is so good I'm actually feeling sick.
+121000 to the Rocketeer
He cannot win the Carmack prize as the GPS failed lock on the way up and reengaged on the way down.
Standard GPS units are designed to unlock at over particular speed/acceleration/height combinations, to prevent use in military ways.
That said, it's a fantastic effort.
So Carmack rigged the challenge by including a requirement that can't be met unless one has access to a military GPS unit?
I expect Carmack will pay up anyway.
He must have expected someone to get a rocket high enough sooner or later, and these guys clearly did... so paying the prize would be the sporting thing to do.
Ho. Lee. MOSES!
That's fantastic! Puts us balloonatics in the shade, really.
@Pete2 - you can't put the genie back in the bottle(-rocket). It was _always_ the case that anyone with the knowledge could make amateur munitions, including rocket munitions. More than seven centuries ago, any Chinese hick with access to gunpowder could pack a load of black powder into a reinforced bamboo tube and launch it at their enemies. The propellants have changed a bit, we've some fancier materials to play with now, but essentially there's no big technological leap here.
We can sit and fear and be sheep, or go and do and be great.
STARS Project, http://stars-project.adeptium.com
To be honest I'd not be to worried about this from a military point of view - in flight guidance is going to be a lot harder than just thrust, I can't see it being any good for use against military jets.
In terms of targetting a civilian airliner I'd have thought it remains a lot simpler and more reliable to get the explosives on board.
In terms of casulties its ground targets that have the high densities - on 9/11 the aircraft was the weapon not the target.
For what its worth I'd be a lot more worried about someone putting together a guided mortar round and a cheap remote controlled helicopter with a laser designator and video feed. In an urban area this could be very worrying.
Here is some more information that was posted to arocket:
"Derek Deville of eAc, SS1, CSXT Go Fast fame reports that his “Qu8k” rocket was launched and successfully recovered with an initial RDAS altitude of 117,000 ft. Rogers Computer simulations estimated 120Kft. Launch vehicle was fully recovered 3 miles from the launch tower with the help of the radio tracker. On board payload included; 4 GPS’s, 3 HD video cameras, Radio Tracker & an ERGO Cosmic Ray Detector (http://www.symbiosis-foundation.org/installation3.html). He reported that 2 of the video cameras melted from the mach 3.5 aero-heating, but the third camera video is absolutely amazing!! He said on the video you can see black sky, curve of the earth, non-inflated parachute tumbling in the near vacuum of space, and the rocket literally stopped vertically at apogee.
Unfortunately none of the 4 GPS’s onboard recorded an altitude over 100,000 Ft. Preliminary reports are that GPS’s were recording data at launch and up to about 20,000 ft where it was lost, then re-acquired tracking at about 40,000ft on the way down under parachute. Derek suspects the high acceleration is the cause of the initial loss. More precise details of his flight will be released at a later date."
Anecdotally, the GPS requirement is the hardest part of the problem! Most GPS units won't allow certain combinations of high acceleration/speed/height as they could then be used for military purposes.
but no playmonaut, no prize
more worrying is letting banks tell governments how to regulate them.
Awesome in the traditional sense. Well done guys. What is that burning glede that shoots off to one side at take off ? Good job it didn't hit anybody.
Nice to have sound
Interesting to hear the changing quality of the sound as the atmosphere thins and, presumably, the rocket speeds up. Also liked the parachute release "plink!" noise that had all the hallmarks of an "opps, some important fiddly little spring just broke" (but thankfully wasn't) ...
better weapons out there
When I first saw this, I thought about its weapon potential
Stick a bomb on it, programme its GPS to eg land on the terrace at Palace of Westminster, or Buck House and you have quite a weapon. Set 5 or 6 do do the same task, in case one fails, and you have a devastating weapon. Sure its a pricey and complex way to do things, but its more accurate than mortars, able to get closer to target than lorry bomb, and if using GPS (or even gyroscope) can't easily be blocked electronically.
An RPG fired from across the Thames would be cheaper, more accurate, more spectacular, and more worring due to the simplicity of it.
I bet he's kicking himself for using the plastic "aeroshroud" :(
Fantastic stuff! Kudos!
Must be nice to have somewhere like Nevada tho. I don't fancy my chances of launching even a bottle rocket from Hyde Park without attracting certain attention/bullets.
Re: the GPS drop out - if it's an acceleration issue (don't think so given it didn't kick back in on apogee) then it's hard to fix. If it's "safety" features built in to the firmware then there's hope of a fix.
I look forward to what he does next :)
gauntlet tehe, instagib baby!
Hats off to Carmack
He just put up some of the the prize money (although he does have his own accomplishments to crow about).
This was someone else.
"for the next ground launched rocket flight above 100,000' with GPS log and successful recovery"
Presumably the word missing there was "amateur" or "non-government", or NASA could have easily snapped it up :-)
Seriously, Americans, either stick to your ridiculous Imperial measurements or use sensible Metric measurements.
Clearly you haven't seen much engineering documents; non-metric structural design nearly always uses "kips", which are "kilo-pounds".
vive la différence
Just because you guys (and the rest of world) knuckled under to the French, that's no reason for US to give up our awkward, expensive, difficult to use, archaic, and embarassing measurement system!
Feet is pretty much standard for aviation, regardless of the metric system. It's not specifically American - Canada has it too. I did do a double take when I saw a French skydive altimeter - it *is* in metres.
I'd guess height measurement using air pressure is a non starter over about 40k feet. but it might be possible to gauge alttiude from the visual references available from the video camera. Enough to win the prize anyway...
Superb stuff though!
The problem with feet is that lots of different countries have different ideas of what a foot are... The US foot was even supposed to be the same as the UK foot, but a bodged conversion via metres in the middle cocked that up, so they were different. You also get issues about what a foot is divided into with variations of 10, 12 or 16 sub-units.
Then they "standardised" the international foot, but still use the old one as a "Survey foot".
I think that it's funny when the Europeans take the micky out the of UK for feet and then they find out that they had their own units originally too.
Oh, and ISTR that the Apollo Rockets that went to the moon that were made by that German bloke were all done in metres.
Please Bring Back Sarah Bee.
Will el-reg take up the challenge ?
Vulture 1 is now well and truely beaten ... how is project LOHAN coming along ?
Not useful for terrorism?
Tell that to the cops who collared my good self, my two mates and their 8-yr old kids the last time we tried to fly some balsa-wood model rockets in Sydney.
They went super-ultra-we've-got-terrrrrsts! when we revealed we were an architect, a mechanical engineer and an aircraft engineer.
Even when the aircraft engineer pointed out the modern jet engines are designed to survive eating birds without too much damage - a 30 gram balsa rocket might have a chance of putting a scratch in the paintwork of a Cessna if it was very lucky, the Cessna was on the ground and not moving, and we fired the rocket horizontally from about 1m away.
Outside the core engineering a logging GPS is *the* issue
The DoD place limits on velocity and altitude. The fact that the US Navy has researched GPS guided artillery shells shows military receivers can go *much* further.
I've read *some* civilian GPS units continue to work but blank the *display*, so (in theory) if you can access the internal registers they will stay on lock (and what do you need a display for in a rocket). I do not have specifics.
To sidestep any licensing restrictions mfgs may have had to comply with the ultimate answer is a software GPS.
Given that Inmos developed such an application in the late 80's to show off the *unheard* of power of a Transputer (10 MIPS) and the key researcher described it (in *outline*) in a series of articles. The articles also described the RF front end and the issues around it.
It's essentially a highly performance tuned software radio using under sampling *directly* from the RF signal. Clock and sample frequencies are a *key* part of the filtration process.
Bit counting opcodes, good interrupt response and fast code execution (for the time) were *the* key features.
The design was reputedly the basis of the "Columbus" GPS receiver (Magellan was the hardware GPS design) so if there are any out there that might be the closest to OTS you could find.
Given the computing power you can now get in something as small as CF format cards this should be fairly straightforward *provided* you know you're going to have an issue with it in the first place.
This work is still a *major* achievement.
Units are like language
They are essential about communication. No one system is better than the other, and the important thing is that both sides understand the system so that a communication can be understood.
Any arguments about metric being more logical don't really hold up for me. If logic is so important for units, why is it not important for language. Why do the French have a logical unit system, but a language full of irregular verbs.