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Rockets To Race Over Wisconsin Skies 210

Posted by timothy
from the nitro-burnin'-funny-ships dept.
Iron Condor writes with a reminder that that the first race of the Rocket Racing League (last mentioned here in April, after its 2005 founding) is set to take place later this month at Oshkosh AirVenture 08. This race, says Iron Condor, "is exactly what it sounds like: NASCAR 1000m above ground in rocket-propelled airplanes. Created by X-prize founder/CEO Peter Diamandis, this is 'the next evolution of racing' (at least according to the promo video, which is definitely worth watching)..."
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Rockets To Race Over Wisconsin Skies

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  • Doh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by genner (694963) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:44PM (#24232643)
    I just moved from Wisconsin. Who knew there was a reason to stay,
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by everphilski (877346)
      The cheese man. It is all the reason you need.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by XiX36 (715429)
        Amen to that, fresh cheese kicks ass! Now if only we can figure out a way to strap a rocket to a giant wheel of cheese. . .
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by nharmon (97591)

        Vermont cheddar has everything from Wisconsin beat.

        (I'm from Michigan)

        • Re:Doh! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:00PM (#24233911) Journal

          Speaking as a European, I have, and really no offence, found US cheese to range from bland for the better stuff, to disgusting for the most mass-market ranges. And the thing you call processed cheese is beyond description all together. I'm sorry, I really am - the people of the USA have contributed to culture and science in many, many ways - but your cheese is the foulest thing that anyone has ever had the gaul to pass off as food. I tried pretty much all of it until I found somewhere that imported proper English cheddar which I bought with great relief.

          I guess it's just one of those things.
          • My favorite is Widmers' brick, named after the farm that produces it in southeast Wisconsin. You can only get it in southeast Wisconsin. It's a relatively mild brick but has a good flavor to it. Sadly I don't live there anymore but when we go up there to visit family we will spend $100+ in cheese and fresh meat. Stuff straight from the small cheese producers and butchers is so much better than what you get in any supermarket.

            You don't have to be sorry, you just aren't spoiled like I am - my dad was a dair
          • Re:Doh! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:13PM (#24234055)

            your cheese is the foulest thing that anyone has ever had the gaul to pass off as food.

            You obviously haven't tried our beer.

          • Re:Doh! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by larkost (79011) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:58PM (#24234547)

            Most of the general cheeses are pretty bland stuff. However, you should go into a grocey store in Wisconsin and look in the "specialty cheeses" section, and you will find a wide selection of cheeses that routinely win international competitions.

            That being said, they still tend to cede the whole area of "stinky cheeses" to the french.

            And I have lived in Europe and Wisconsin and enjoy (and pay for) good cheese. I am living in California now, and miss the cheese.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Fozzyuw (950608)

            Speaking as a European, I have, and really no offence, found US cheese to range from bland for the better stuff, to disgusting for the most mass-market ranges.

            Speaking as a life-long Wisconsinite who's marrying a French woman, and has lived near London (Twickenham) for a while and spent more time in/around Paris than I care for, you opinion is actually fairly valid. Wisconsin is know for it's cheese in the U.S., but that pretty much covers cheddar. Sure there's emmental (aka swiss), mozorella, Blue and parmesan but it's really not much variety at all.

            I'm exaggerating a little bit and there are some quite good stuff out there, but it's also not cheese you're goi

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Aloisius (1294796)
            I like Humboldt Fog, Old Chatham Camembert, Vermont Shepherd, Pleasant Ridge Reserve and Roth's Private Reserve is also nice.

            Fiscalini Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar from Modesto beat out all the English cheddars in London last year (first time Wyke Farms Trophy has ever been awarded to a non-English cheddar).

            Flagship Reserve is a nice cheddar made up in Seattle.

            Have you been to a good cheese shop? This country makes a lot of bad cheese, but there are some fine cheeses if you know where to look.
          • but your cheese is the foulest thing that anyone has ever had the gaul to pass off as food.

            If you really want to talk about gaul, look at France.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)

        Cheese and racing? All you need to attract Space Rats:

        Avon: Bring that thing into close-up.
        [Shots of the space chopper, getting larger and larger.]
        Avon: Closer. Concentrate on the pilot. I want a close-up of his helmet.
        [Shot of helmet revealing red silhouette of a rat.]
        Vila: It's a Space Rat!
        Soolin: Friends of yours?
        Vila: Friends? Space Rats? There's no such thing as a friend of a Space Rat -- they even hate each other.
        Tarrant: What else do you know about them?
        Vila: They're maniacs, psychopaths! All they live for is sex and violence, booze and speed. And the fellows are just as bad. We had a couple in the penal colony once. They were always trying to frighten me.
        Dayna: [Laughing] And they never succeeded, of course. What were they imprisoned for?
        Vila: Breaking into transport museums. When the Federation banned all leisure transport, they went in for stealing anything on wheels or could fly. They were speed crazy, and I do mean crazy.

  • Oh yeah!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:45PM (#24232663) Journal

    Rednecks racing rocket's 'round a ringed raceway! Radically refreshing!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by andrewd18 (989408)
      Hey now, we're not rednecks. We're Cheeseheads. Get it right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by SBacks (1286786)

      Wisconsin is not full of rednecks, its way to far north. Its full of cheeseheads, a subgroup of hicks.

      (Just for the record, I grew up 20 miles south of the WI border)

      • We cheeseheads are not a subgroup of hicks, you FIB.

        (oh snap)

    • Saddly, the summation of Slashdotters will slowly slaughter the spotlighted server.
    • by Yold (473518)

      And suddenly from behind me,
      this guy stood up and said
      "Ehhh... hold my Leine"
      And said "Doncha know,
      that's a rocket ya know"

      FYI: Brett Favre doesn't throw bad passes, its just his arthritis.
       

    • Rednecks racing rocket's 'round a ringed raceway! Radically refreshing!

      The crashes are going to kick ass!

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday July 17, 2008 @03:50PM (#24232735)

    "Now *that's* what I call *pod-racing*!"

    Now all we need is some Sand People to shoot at the racers, and we're all set!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Now *that's* what I call *pod-racing*!"

      Now all we need is some Sand People to shoot at the racers, and we're all set!

      Fine, we'll hold it in Iraq next year.

    • Now all we need is some Sand People to shoot at the racers, and we're all set!

      So you're saying they need a tribe of people with language of unintelligible guttural noises that are both heavily armed and perpetually dressed in baggy, concealing clothing? Sounds like Wisconsin to me.

      • Just because we call them bubblers, hunt deer, and only have two long seasons doesn't mean you can call us Sand People.

        Cheese People? That's just fine though. Mmmm...

      • by nate nice (672391)

        Wisconsin is one of the only states left without concealed carry. So it is generally accepted the people in Wisconsin are not heavily armed.

        • They may not have concealed carry, but I don't think there are Buddhists lining up around the block to be reincarnated* as a deer living in the Wisconsin dells. They may not have concealed weapons, but they've got plenty of long guns.

          *should your particular flavor of Buddhism acknowledge reincarnation in the first place.

      • by The Raven (30575)

        I take offense to that der comment hey!

  • X-Prize? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dripdry (1062282)
    I can see where if this sort of thing really took off, the X-Prize interests would dovetail perfectly. If private racing could eventually hold races in low earth orbit, beating governments to the technology, the interest and funding for space could really take off. It's just another way to skin the cat, making money while advancing reasonable interests.
    • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:31PM (#24233409) Homepage Journal
      If it's NASCAR-style, then it'll appeal to some folks but it just won't have the kind of hold that other racing leagues get. Formula 1 gets serious money, and world-class rally racing is just that - world-wide, with an audience few sports can compete with. These two are descendants of the old European city-to-city races, where racers where gentlemen first. NASCAR is descended from bootlegger contests where winning was more important than how.

      Rocket racing really needs to take the same road as the old-style European racing leagues, perhaps even taking that kind of idealistic "it's not the winning that counts" attitude even further. Anyone can make a fast rocket, but does it have style? Is it fast out of brute-force or because the design is the coolest hack ever? Award points for place, yes, but also for style. Why encourage crap designs and crap driving?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chaim79 (898507)
      That would be very different (and even more interesting) then what they are doing, right now it's just rocket powered aircraft, to race in LEO you'd have to have some powerful maneuvering jets and a strong control system, and a pilot who can think maneuvering in an airless environment where it's all changing momentum vs changing wind deflection and lift properties.
  • Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:01PM (#24232915) Homepage
    Amazing how they can make giant glowing polygons float in the sky for the planes to fly through.
    • Amazing how they can make giant glowing polygons float in the sky for the planes to fly through.

      What's really amazing is your Interesting mod as opposed to Funny. You just sent more people to RTFA than the milf comment last month did.

      "Flying glowing polygons!?! Not that's something I just HAVE to see!!!"

  • Finally. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:02PM (#24232933) Homepage Journal

    a video I can watch because it's not Flash.

    That said, these don't look like rockets but are simply jets. Still interesting but not true rocket racing.

    If they really wanted to make it interesting, they should have the competitors fly through the canyon they show in the video.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105)

      What makes you think they're jets rather than rockets? They looked like planes with rockets in the back to my (admittedly untrained) eye.

    • by EdIII (1114411) *

      If they really wanted to make it interesting, they should have the competitors fly through the canyon they show in the video.

      Noooooo... If they *really* wanted to make it interesting they would do what that idiot (lovable idiot) did in JackAss 2.

      They would put on handles and some steering controls and the "pilots" would have to ride real rockets through the canyon. Now that's a sport!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      That said, these don't look like rockets but are simply jets. Still interesting but not true rocket racing.

      Jet racing, rocket racing... Why would I care about the difference? "Oh this is lame, these things aren't even carrying their own oxidizer!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Because when they crash the ones carrying oxidizer are going to blow up MUCH more impressively.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Nope they are true rockets burning Liquid Oxygen and Alcohol.
      They do use jet propulsion but all rockets do. They just don't use turbojets or turbofans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Berre (709145)
      They are using rocket engines.
      The engines are supplied by Armadillo Aerospace.
      John Carmack posted news about the deal a while back: http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home/News?news_id=358 [armadilloaerospace.com]
    • In this video [rocketracingleague.com], the FAA sees this project as a preview of "citizen suborbital spaceflight."
  • I was on the fence about whether to go to the EAA fly-in this year. When I had heard of the RRL race, I immediately notified my boss of the upcoming vacation day. That was a month ago. =)

  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:13PM (#24233123)

    .... before Wile E Coyote (Super Genius) merged with NASCAR.

    I predict similar spectacular failures to occur, and I think I will enjoy it just as much as I used to do when I was five years old :)

  • by SeekerDarksteel (896422) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:14PM (#24233137)
    ...does that include NASCAR's amazing ability to make something that should be fantastically awesome in theory and make it something incredibly boring in practice?
  • ...if all the cars in the Daytona ran the entire race one at a time and they all just compared time afterward. Thrilling!
  • Fuel? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StellarFury (1058280) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:42PM (#24233589)

    Uhhh... does anyone care about the massive waste of rocket fuel that this is? I mean, that's the number one reason I hate NASCAR. It's just downright wasteful. We could be using that gas, instead of burning it to drive in a circle 500 times.

    This whole auto-racing thing is an artifact of a world where energy is plentiful and can be freely squandered.

    • Re:Fuel? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:17PM (#24234093)

      Uhhh... does anyone care about the massive waste of rocket fuel that this is? I mean, that's the number one reason I hate NASCAR. It's just downright wasteful. We could be using that gas, instead of burning it to drive in a circle 500 times.

      This whole auto-racing thing is an artifact of a world where energy is plentiful and can be freely squandered.

      What do you figure the energy costs are to to run an indoor football/soccer/basketball stadium? Or an NHL hockey rink? remember, these all have to be maintained 24x7.

      Not to mention all the fuel used flying all those people back and forth across the globe just so they can kick a ball around or hit a puck with a stick?

      At least there is some technology feedback from auto racing back into 'real cars'.

      What would be the return on investment in the energy cost of hockey? baseball? football?

      How confident are you that NASCAR is actually the most energy wasteful sport going?

    • Re:Fuel? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ghoti (60903) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:27PM (#24234183) Homepage

      This whole auto-racing thing is an artifact of a world where energy is plentiful and can be freely squandered.

      Well said! I completely agree. It's time we move on to a world where it's cool to be efficient and conserve energy rather than blow it out the exhaust pipe as fast as possible.

      • Re:Fuel? (Score:5, Funny)

        by rkanodia (211354) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @06:07PM (#24234657)

        I look forward to the day when the US starts importing yogis from India in order to compete in Olympic Energy Conservation.

        "Radhakrishnan's got his heart down to 4 beats per minute... 3... but OH! Gupta has tapped the core of his seventh chakra, and he's coming in with 2.. 1... ZERO BEATS PER MINUTE! This is unbelivable - this is the first time ANYONE has achieved complete body stasis in a competition setting! Now, remember folks, according to IOC rules, he has two minutes to re-awaken and establish the validity of the record, or else paramedics will be deployed to the field with a defibrillator..."

    • by Pontiac (135778)

      The initial designs use a 1800lb thrust Oxygen/Kerosene (Jet-A) engine
      That one has 40 gallons of Jet-A and 10 cu ft of LOX (722) lbs

      Just to compare NASCAR uses a 22 gallon tank and a 777 jet liner burns 50 gallons a minute

      Then 2nd gen planes are using twin 400lb thrust Oxygen/Alcohol engines.
      I couldn't find the fuel specs for the O2/Alcohol engines.

    • Re:Fuel? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nate nice (672391) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:47PM (#24234433) Journal

      Go away, hippie.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Deadstick (535032)
      This whole auto-racing thing is an artifact of a world where energy is plentiful and can be freely squandered.

      ...which differs from football or baseball precisely how? Have you any idea how much fuel it takes to get seventy-five thousand people from home to a stadium and back?

      rj

    • It depends on your personal opinion of what 'useful' is. I would think that the best use for a commodity would be the use that produced the greatest economic gain. So in my utilitarian view of gasoline consumption, the racer that uses 500 gallons of gas to earn $500,000 is more efficient than 10 people using 50 gallons of gas to make $10,000-$20,000. The racer created wealth out of gas and spectacle. This is not a zero-sum game. Racing increases our gdp more than office work.

      An idealistic viewpoint like you

  • I wonder how closely the actual racing will resemble the video renders. Because while the video renders look awesome, they seem a bit fantastical.

    Either way, here's a less likely to be slashdotted video mirror [vimeo.com].

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @04:53PM (#24233785) Journal
    Towards the end of the promo video, there is a short clip from inside one of the planes (one can see "Castrol" on the canard wing and the plane is flying above a river) -- in the front, one can clearly see a propellor. WTF?
    • Its almost certainly a impeller to drive a generator for on board electrical systems. Big battery banks weigh too much, and there's no spinning shaft like in a jet to leach power from. More efficient to stick a propeller on the outside.

      The US Navy's (old?) electronic warfare (EA-6 Prowler), could carry additional jamming pods, each one which was powered by their own little propeller.
  • One word: smoke (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ghoti (60903) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @05:21PM (#24234127) Homepage

    The trailer looks cool, but there are tons of problems. This isn't going to look anywhere nearly as exciting in reality.

    First of all, they expect people to go there to watch the action on huge TVs? WTF? Why do that when you can stay at home and see it on TV? This is essentially a virtual sport, there's hardly anything to see in the real world (other than the take-off and the unavoidable fly-by).

    But the reason this isn't going to be anywhere near what the video shows is safety. These planes will have to keep a significant safety distance so they don't crash into each other. So no high-powered chases or planes flying through overlapping polygons. The other planes will only be tiny specks somewhere in the distance.

    Also, do you know how far the safety distance is behind a commercial plane? That's miles of airspace that can't be used due to turbulence in the plane's wake. Now imagine what the wake of a rocket plane is like!

    And finally, one word: smoke! These engines don't burn nearly as clean as the nice CGI suggests, ever seen a Shuttle launch? There will be tons of smoke, making it hard to see much, and increasing the safety distances even further.

    So apart from this being a hugely wasteful kind of sport (undoubtedly the most wasteful ever), it's also going to be boring as hell. Call me a nay-sayer, but I can't see this take off (no pun intended, haha).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Pontiac (135778)

      And finally, one word: smoke! These engines don't burn nearly as clean as the nice CGI suggests, ever seen a Shuttle launch? There will be tons of smoke, making it hard to see much, and increasing the safety distances even further.

      Funny I don't see any smoke in the pics of the real thing running..
      http://www.xcor.com/products/engines/4A3_LOX_alcohol_rocket_engine.html [xcor.com]
      The rocket planes run on LOX and Alcohol..

      Do you know what the shuttle main engiens burn? Hydrogen and Oxygen.. Hmm what does that make?? Oh ye

    • Re:One word: smoke (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Deadstick (535032) on Thursday July 17, 2008 @06:35PM (#24234923)
      The other planes will only be tiny specks somewhere in the distance.

      Three words: Reno Air Races. Hotrodded WW2 fighters and some jets, 500+ mph, 10-mile course with the front straight a few hundred yards from the bleachers.

      Also, do you know how far the safety distance is behind a commercial plane? That's miles of airspace that can't be used due to turbulence in the plane's wake. Now imagine what the wake of a rocket plane is like!

      You mean like this? http://www.airrace.org/2007ncargallery.php [airrace.org] Wake turbulence depends almost entirely on weight, not airspeed.

      hugely wasteful kind of sport

      You're talking about a sport where a few dozen airplanes perform in front of fifty thousand people who got there in cars, right?

      rj

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Smoke won't be a problem for these rockets. The engines are no where near the size of the ones on the shuttle and they use different propellants. As a matter of fact there are plans to add some dyes to the fuel so that the rockets each have different color plumes to make them easier to distinguish from each other in the air.

      A couple of links for you:

      http://media.armadilloaerospace.com/2008_04_14/seededPlume.jpg [armadilloaerospace.com] http://media.armadilloaerospace.com/2008_05_12/greenPlume.jpg [armadilloaerospace.com]

      Also, the size of the tur

    • by wjsteele (255130)

      "Also, do you know how far the safety distance is behind a commercial plane? That's miles of airspace that can't be used due to turbulence in the plane's wake. Now imagine what the wake of a rocket plane is like!"

      Actually, what's interesting about a "plane's wake" turbulence is that it is a function of speed and weight. These planes are very small and light, so their wake will also be very small. The only thing another plane would feel is a minor bump or "air pocket."

      When a commerical jet is landing, it is slow and heavy, which produces very large wingtip vorticies. That is when we will hear the warning from ATC, "Caution, Wake Turbulence." The normal landing procedure behind an airliner is to land beyond w

  • Looking at the videos, does anyone notice the racers resemble the Swordfish II from Cowboy Bebop? (Follow the link below if you don't know wtf i'm talking about)

    http://i177.photobucket.com/albums/w239/PetarB/Sideup.jpg [photobucket.com]

    Maybe it's not a 100% match, but it's sort of interesting how the designers of Bebop knew that a rocket propelled plane would have to have a mid cantelliver wing design, with the wings being mounted to the rear of the craft with little to no delta sweeping.

  • NASCAR is 50/60's tech pushrod/carburetor muscle car racing on ovals.

    As for using it in the comparison, seems like you would want to use a more modern racing series with cooler tech.

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