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Science Technology

Rocket Science on Two Wheels 76

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the innovation-right-into-the-boards dept.
dstone writes "Tim Pickens, president of Orion Propulsion, the rocket design firm behind SpaceShipOne, has designed a bicycle-mounted 200-pound-thrust rocket engine that will allow a bicycle to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 5 seconds. From the article: 'The rocket bike employs the same hybrid rocket technology as the suborbital rocket plane SpaceShipOne, whose propulsion system Pickens helped design. [...] The engineer's next project is to build a company car: a pickup truck with a removable 2,000-pound-thrust rocket strapped into the bed.'"
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Rocket Science on Two Wheels

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  • How long... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by jibjibjib (889679)
    How long does the fuel last for? 5 seconds? You couldn't carry a long time's worth of rocket fuel on a bike.
  • I don't know how useful a rocket-powered truck would be. It's like blackmailing yourself. You're never going to use it.

    But I could totally see the benefit of the rocket bike. Bicyclists will finally be able to travel at speeds which don't hold up drivers. And it has the benefit of instantly killing these two-wheeled nuisances when the tires blow out.
    • I want one of these on my snowboard.

      1) Creates ice behind me to wipe out the spies, ninjas and pirates pursuing
      2) Finally gets me through those long slopeless areas!
    • You could say that putting a rocket on a bike is a bit like strapping a jet engine on a cow. It'll go faster, but what's the point if the cow is dead?
    • They can now, it's called motor pacing, and doing 70 MPH is achievable by mere mortals in good shape the world record is at least 152.2 Miles per Hour [canosoarus.com]. Riding at 70 MPH without a motor paced bicycle happens a lot in pro events on decents, on a flat it's just shy of the record.
    • Gee whiz... First rocket-powered Chevy Vega, then a jet-pack, then a sustained skydiver-powered flight with rockets strapped on ankles and NOW this... (flalling hands about) this ... (punching fist into open hand) this (waving explosive arms) ... zoom-cycle.

      Is it just the /.'r in me or all of us, when this decade is seeing a marked increase in Darwinism Awards applicants that wants to (or AT LEAST appear to) defies not only the law of gravity, aerodynamic laws, Heisenberg Principle, Fermat's Theorem, Silly-
    • Bicyclists will finally be able to travel at speeds which don't hold up drivers. And it has the benefit of instantly killing these two-wheeled nuisances when the tires blow out.

      There are TONS of cycling-idiots out there that are going to eventually get themselves or other hurt or killed. I see them on the road too and they are literally asking for trouble. However ...

      Bicyclists can already travel at speeds that don't hold up drivers. Fully faired tandems have been able to hit 55 mph or more since t
      • Find and read the short story "Why Johnny Can't Speed", then ask yourself how close we are to that interpretation of the law. Me, I'm going for explosive caltrops and a pocket howitzer for the Patrol. Might still be a bit small for the GAU-7 though, may need a Ford F650...
  • 0-60 in 5 secs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:11AM (#14555930)
    this is pretty average for motorbikes, with good 600cc machines capable of doing it in a little over 4 secs.
    • by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:17AM (#14555952) Journal
      this is pretty average for motorbikes

      Perhaps, but your average motorcycle doesn't incinerate the Hyundai Excel that's been tailgating you for the past six traffic lights.
      • Shouldn't tail gate bicycles anyways; 105 PSI racing slicks + pea gravel on road = punctured radiator or a 4Cm paint chip on the door! I've had people complain that I shot their cars with a gun. There are some guys down under doing some wild stuff with homemade gas turines on bicycle and go-karts. Basicaly they take a turbo-charger from a car and conntect a combustion chamber between the compressor and the exhaust turbine, pump in some pressurized oil, turm on the ignitor, then blow air through it with a
      • It does if it uses a turbine engine. Ask Jay Leno...
  • Now thats cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:20AM (#14555961)

    Am I the only person left that likes to see a bit of dare devil in the people that try and push the boundaries.? The land speed record for cars, for isntance, has just become dull because the teams working on it are just too professional and there is only a tiny chance that something will go horribly wrong (a bit like F1 really). This, however, is "cool". There is a really good chance this guy could kill himself but he does it anyway to push the limits a bit.

    Perhaps it's a little sick but there is no enjoyment in watching / following something like this if there isn't at least a moderate chance of failure. IMHO F1 would be improved if they removed the safety features and let computers drive the cars. We might get back to the good old days where there was some radical innovation (I remember one team fitted a massive fan to the bottom of the car to suck it down and another had a car with 6 wheels at one point).

    • by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:30AM (#14555992) Homepage Journal
      Am I the only person left that likes to see a bit of dare devil in the people that try and push the boundaries.?

      No. As a firm proponent of continuing human evolution, the strengthening of the whole human gene pool through the removal of the dare devil stupidity gene both entertains and reassures me.
      • increasing safety doesnt remove the stupidity gene - it just lets the idiots live, no matter how hard they try! o_0 and how is that 'entertaining'?
      • Except that if there are no more innovators and daredevils left, this will mean a slowing of progress. You always need people who are willing to go out on a limb to risk their own lives as test pilots and stuff. If all these people are weeded out, who is going to test fly new airplanes and stuff like that?
    • Am I the only person left that likes to see a bit of dare devil in the people that try and push the boundaries.? The land speed record for cars, for isntance, has just become dull because the teams working on it are just too professional and there is only a tiny chance that something will go horribly wrong (a bit like F1 really). This, however, is "cool". There is a really good chance this guy could kill himself but he does it anyway to push the limits a bit.

      Dude, it's already been done [marineturbine.com]. This baby goes 227

      • Some people [waynepollack.com] do want to go faster on two wheels. That bike is street legal as well.

        To the grandparent of this post, I would suggest you look farther than the multi million dollar turbine projects in Land Speed Racing. There are still pleanty of back yard daredevils pushing piston powered records without the benefit of a hundred engineers. They don't get much media coverage, and they don't have huge budgets. They do have a lot of spirit, and some of the stuff they pull off is pretty amazing.
    • The land speed record for cars, for isntance, has just become dull because the teams working on it are just too professional and there is only a tiny chance that something will go horribly wrong (a bit like F1 really).

      Ummm, Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America flipped onto it's side at 675 MPH in the last round of land speed record attempts, but, incredibly, he got it back on the wheels and was unhurt. Since there was only 2 teams, that puts the probability at 50%.

      Experience and luck count for a lot of that
  • The Mythbusters did this already, they fired off the rocket car in the desert with some spooks keeping an eye on them :)

    It was the second best episode ever, just after the one where they blew up the cement truck in the quarry. BOOM!
  • oh great (Score:1, Troll)

    by rpjs (126615)
    London cyclists are bad enough as it is; cycling through red lights, across pedestrian crossings, on the pavement (sidewalk to Transpondians). Now they'll be doing it at 60mph!
    • Now they'll be doing it at 60mph!

      ...but hopefully straight up in the air, like Wile E. Coyote.

    • Re:oh great (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Svaje (634656)
      There is only one speed setting for a bicycle. Full speed ahead! :) Svaje
  • (a) ...so what keeps the rider from flapping behind the handlebars like a flag (best case) or immediately turning into a somewhat crispy spectator, as his now-riderless bike rockets off without him?

    (b) Rocket: $1k.
        Optional backrest: $2k
        Attorneys' fees for traffic citation collection: priceless

    c) Lessee...how long until someone makes a reference to the Darwin Award?
    • by somersault (912633)
      rockets are pretty poor at starting an object from a standstill, which is why motorbikes can easily beat this thing even though they are several times heavier. I thought up an allegory after reading a description of how a wider, slower flow helps low speed acceleration rather than an intense high powered flow - think of the difference between getting pushed (wider surface area) to getting stabbed (lower surface area which cuts straight through without much resistance). The rocket is better when the object i
  • by The Ribena Kid (140177) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @06:33AM (#14556002)
    ..."Wile E. Coyote" spring to mind?
  • "a removable 2,000-pound-thrust rocket strapped into the bed"

    i'm sure i've seen something like that... on a friend's TV by accident of course ;)
  • Here in Australia a vehicle with an engine of less than 200 watts is a bicycle. Above that value its a motorcycle. I assume that similar rules apply where ever this person operates.

    This is just a pretty inefficent rocket powered motorbike with crappy brakes.

    • That's interesting because a good amateur cyclist can easily put out 200 watts for a sustained period of time.  Does that mean they become a motorcycle when putting out >200 watts but can slack off and be a bicycle again?
      • That's interesting because a good amateur cyclist can easily put out 200 watts for a sustained period of time. Does that mean they become a motorcycle when putting out >200 watts but can slack off and be a bicycle again?

        No, it specifically refers to the engine distinct from the rider. Otherwise a jogger putting out > 200W would have to be considered a motor vehicle and equipped with lights, rego plates, etc.

  • I read the summary and assumed it was a motorbike, but no. It's an ordinary pedal bike with a rocket on the back. And ordinary pedal bike brakes as far as I can see from the picture. Now call me boring, but I want better brakes before I attempt to ride a pedal bike that fast.
    • It's designed to go very fast.

      Stopping is an optional extra.
    • Re:Brakes! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by petaflop (682818)
      How good do you want your brakes? There's no point having brakes better than required to lock a wheel or lift the backend, and mid-price bicycle brakes are already plenty good enough to do that. The prerequisite for improving the stopping power of a bicycle is lower the centre of mass or to put more weight on it, especially at the back. After that, you can get disk brakes if you need them - these are commonly used on recumbents, particularly recumbentstrikes, and sometimes on tandems.
      • Sorry but just locking up the tire is not the only requirement in stopping. In fact it is the least important requirement and only wanted once you get close to and almost at a complete stop.

        The important part is heat disipation over long friction times. Most bycicle brakes would melt if you had to stop a bike going 100mpg quickly.

    • That's all right, you don't have to ride it if you don't want to.
  • Great! now all the school run mums can add 12 foot flame thrower and extream speed to their arsnel of bad driving, irritability and poor fuel economy!

    Once again just because you can does not always mean you should.
  • Fritz von Opel already constructed a rocket propelled motorbike in 1928: http://www.classic-motorrad.de/CM2003/Noell/opel-r ak.htm [classic-motorrad.de] It has never been tested, since the authorities denied the use of the rocket engines.
  • I have a lot of brick streets around my house, this bike would be hell on the back, but only for a split second.
  • It's hard to see from the CNN photo, but you can see the major design fault regarding the placement of the gas bottle here. [tripod.com] It makes me cross my legs just thinking about the things that could go wrong!

    Anyway, there's nothing to see here, they were racing rocket bikes in the 1920's! [pipex.com] Move along, move along...

    Haydn.
  • A similar effect can be achieved in a cheap and easy manner.

    Supplies:
    1 plentiful meal of beans (for longer distances, dietary changes may be needed)
    1 lighter (one that produces an open flame)
    1 bicycle with functional brakes
    • ... and it would be equally polluting. If this bike uses the same technology as space ship one, it burns HTPB (similar to tyre rubber) with nitrous oxide at sub-optimal mixture ratios. Imagine the soot coming off it...
  • "The engineer's next project is to build a company car: a pickup truck with a removable 2,000-pound-thrust rocket strapped into the bed."

    I can see the NASCAR rednecks with these rocket trucks all "flocking" to the race overhead- NO! Don't look UP...arrghh, too late...ewwww!

    Disclaimer- I have been labled one of these NASCAR rednecks by many, but if ya can't poke a little fun at yourself, ya probably take shit too serious.
  • At the 2000 Interbike show in Las Vegas, the late lamented Vision recumbent bicyle company demonstrated a rocket-powered recumbent bike. It apparently made quite an impression.

    I want one. A little rocket on the rear rack would make short work of the hills.
  • Pickens was further quoted as remarking: "We've already gotten our application for the Darwin Award all filled out, we're just not sure if we should wait until after the experiment to submit it."
  • but 60mph is not the top speed for a bicycle. Currently the speed record for an HPV (Human Powered Vehicle - i.e. no rockets) is 81.00mph or 130.36kph.

    http://www.recumbents.com/wisil/records/fastest_ev er.htm [recumbents.com]
    • Yeah, the top speed they're shooting for is a bit of a yawner (I've personally ridden a plain ol' 10-speed at >45 mph -- all you need is an abundance of "downhill" and a shortage of good sense, both of which I had access to in my teen's and early-20's -- an extra 15 or 20 mph doesn't exactly make a thrill ride out of it) but getting there in just a few seconds ought to "up" the old heartrate a bit (I'd also recommend more than a t-shirt and pair of riding shorts for the uniform, btw, unless they know of
    • That's with no car in front to block the wind. The drafting bicycle speed record is upwards of 130 mph (Al Abbott, Bonneville Salt Flats). It doesn't show up well in Google, but it do recall reading about it. It's hard to imagine the road rash you could get.
  • Eject Buckaroo! Eject!
  • Tim had his bike on display at the National Space Society [nss.org] - HAL-5 [hal5.org] booth at the Las Cruces X-Prize Cup [xpcup.com] event last October. I didn't see them turn on the motor though!
  • And the various members of the alt.space community wonder why they can't get any respect...
  • It could be really fun to watch some one take one of these down the dirt jump run.
    Doh. Now I'm gonna wanna figure out when the best time to set it off would be.

An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because people refuse to see it. -- James Michener, "Space"

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