Rocket Racing League Scheduled to start in 2006
October 4, 2005 6:37 AM   Subscribe

NASCAR? F1? Pah! Now we're talking Rocket Racing!! Apparently not content to sit idle, the founder of the Ansari Space X-prize , Peter Diamandis, has launched a rocket racing league. While this sounds pretty amazing in itself, here's the real clincher: it's scheduled to start its first race in September 2006.

According to the press release: the RRL will see Grand Prix-style races between rocket planes, flown by top pilots through a "3D trackway" just 5,000ft (1,500m) above the ground. Pictures here (make sure to click the concept links on the same page). BBC Story here.
posted by Mave_80 (22 comments total)
Stupid spaces on the FPP - sorry about that.
posted by Mave_80 at 6:37 AM on October 4, 2005

(Make sure to warn on Flash.)
posted by Mikey-San at 6:52 AM on October 4, 2005

Instant death.
posted by 517 at 6:53 AM on October 4, 2005

Yup - another apology: Pictures are in Flash. Didn't catch that Mikey-San. Thanks for the heads up
posted by Mave_80 at 6:56 AM on October 4, 2005

It's a thrilling concept, but I imagine that it would actually be more fun with slower planes that could turn sharp corners, like the aerobatic monoplanes you see looping the loop at airshows. A stationary observer wouldn't have much time to take in a rocket plane. And I bet the safety considerations would mean they can't actually have any close-quarters, Wipeout-style racing.

If the "course" doesn't exist, will the pilots have to fly the whole thing looking a computer screen with graphics projected over the landscape. It all starts to sound very virtual and safe.
posted by godawful at 6:59 AM on October 4, 2005

It all starts to sound very virtual and safe.

Just like Challenger 7.
posted by warbaby at 7:11 AM on October 4, 2005

It all starts to sound very virtual and safe.
until someone pokes an eye out.
posted by hal9k at 8:07 AM on October 4, 2005

After looking at the "Venue Concepts" it appears about as exciting as standing around for any old air-show. Read: not in the slightest.

godawful: " A stationaryobserver wouldn't have much time to take in a rocket plane. "

Yeah, with the way the concept is illustrated it'd be the equivalent of the stands being on the inside edge of a Nascar track, facing outwards viewing only the starting line.
posted by prostyle at 8:15 AM on October 4, 2005

Binoculars not optional.
posted by caddis at 8:36 AM on October 4, 2005

Oh, pshaw, the Goblins on the Shimmering Flats have been doing this for over a year, now.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:46 AM on October 4, 2005

"3D trackway" just 5,000ft above the ground

What about the sand people hiding on the mesa?
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:50 AM on October 4, 2005

Actually, these planes aren't even that fast (very subsonic), they don't have much thrust time (3 minutes on a tank of fuel), and they will be doing fancy vertical climbs, all of which should act to slow down the races to more managable speeds.
posted by JohnnyB at 9:09 AM on October 4, 2005

Bay Area mefites can check out the fleet week air races this weekend. No rockets though...
posted by Loser at 9:26 AM on October 4, 2005

I like how it is a completely new style of racing. I hope to see it take off. Only having 3-4 minutes of fuel and learning when to be thrusting or gliding. On paper I like the idea. We'll see next year when they have their first 4 rocket race.

Also, please note that the speed of the first years models will be just over 200 mph max. Add to that a 20 ft plume that is periodically turning off and on and I'm sure they'd be quite visible.

Also, I think air shows are fun to watch.
posted by Phantomx at 10:17 AM on October 4, 2005

This is a Fox disaster video special waiting to happen.
posted by stenseng at 10:40 AM on October 4, 2005

That goblin image is great - thanks thanotopsis!
posted by rawfishy at 11:26 AM on October 4, 2005

This is totally going to kick NASCAR's ass.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:50 AM on October 4, 2005

Note the imagery -- they show the vehicle pointed straight up. They have a way to go yet to match the puffery.

Promising -- but I wonder what the point is, are they trying to develop better engines capable of prolonged use? No need for a rocket (rather than an air breathing jet) when flying aerodynamically in an atmosphere, and the results of thrust in atmosphere aren't going to be real useful for designing nozzles for thrusting in vacuum either, different shock wave problems and so forth.

Are they all using the Rutan aircraft design, or is this an open platform competition?

Now, I recall science fiction stories in which the course was once once around the planet -- and those flying it had to keep steering thrusters pointed outward because they were going faster than orbital speed.
posted by hank at 11:55 AM on October 4, 2005

Neat find.
320 mph? 4 minutes of powered flight in a 15 minute race? Staggered starts?

Meh. Sounds even less exciting than NASCAR. And why the heck would you want to carry your own oxidizer if you're not going exoatmospheric? Other than to contribute to the bomb-like qualities of your craft, I mean.

I'd rather go see the Reno Air Races. Or a motorcycle race, where they're hitting 200+ mph while riding within inches of each other.
posted by hackwolf at 11:55 AM on October 4, 2005

Meesa so there!
posted by dhartung at 1:16 PM on October 4, 2005

I've seen the Reno Air Races on tv, and if I remember correctly, there have been many crashes (often fatal) over the years.
posted by Gamblor at 2:13 PM on October 4, 2005

This isn't what I would envision from a semi-interesting rocket race.

I was thinking they would expand the X-Cup to having simultaneous or sequential launches of sub-orbital craft with points given for maximum altitude, time taken to reach that altitude, length of time spent weightless, precision of landing on a specified target, etc. Given the differences in engineering between the different teams, this could be very interesting.

Thats something I would pay to see, even if there wouldn't be much for the visuals.
posted by pandaharma at 3:04 PM on October 4, 2005

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