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Space Science

John Carmack, Rocket Boy 185

will_edit_for_food writes "Space Future has an interview with John Carmack (of Doom and Quake fame) about his new company Armadillo Aerospace and their plans to build a passenger-carrying vehicle for space tourism." Carmack's involvement with unconventional rocketry is well-known, but this interview offers a glimpse into the details of Armadillo's approach to the skies.
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John Carmack, Rocket Boy

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  • GPL FP (Score:1, Funny)

    by egg troll ( 515396 )
    Three generations of rockets down the road, John will GPL the specs for the first rocket!
  • Ahha! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Latent IT ( 121513 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:12PM (#4047973)
    We straightened the bent frame by wedging it between the trailer and Joseph's tractor, and running a floor jack under the middle until it straightened out. Russ gave it a quick paint job.

    Holy cow, I didn't know Carmack was such a farm boy. ;p

  • Hmmm (Score:2, Funny)

    I wonder if he'll send some marines off to Mars one day,just to see.....
  • BFG (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I've seen what Carmack can do with the BFG - I'm not about to ride one of those into orbit!
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:15PM (#4047993) Homepage Journal
    from the site:

    We straightened the bent frame by wedging it between the trailer and Joseph's tractor, and running a floor jack under the middle until it straightened out. Russ gave it a quick paint job.

    I don't doubt that Carmack is a smart guy, but these guys are basically garage tinkerers. I wouldn't really want to fly into space on a vehicle that used duct tape as an integral part of the craft. Even if these guys can build something capable of propelling someone into space, I wouldn't want to actually be on it until the design had been worked out by real engineers.

    Aside from some of the computer control stuff, I doubt they are really doing all that much innovated (well, aside from cost saving measures :P). I'm sure they're having a lot of fun though :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:25PM (#4048034)
      About 2 million duct tapes are used when doing preps for each shuttle mission. We have such a large order that 3M has it's own division set out for us. Ductape is an intergrial (no joke) part of all space research. Oh I'm at NASA btw.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      And the Wright brothers were "just bicycle mechanics". Its people like this who will give us cheap space access long before NASA or any other government agency does.
    • Real engineers get stuff done, the rest are just posers.
      • Technicians get stuff done. Engineers just think up the stuff that needs doing.
        • Whatever. Real technician/engineers get the damn thing built. Are you happy now?
          • Sure. I was not unhappy before.

            I'd rather be the engineer than the technician. The engineer gets a lot more creative control.
          • unbunch your panties. the proper response is 'touché'
            • Oh my god. It's worse than I thought. Your journal is pure tripe. Demonstrably, capitalism has succeeded a bazillionfold better than communism. What makes you think that there is any merit in providing everybody with the same material wealth in the first place? Do you honestly believe that wealth is a conserved quantity? What makes you think there will be any material wealth to dirstribute for long if it is given at the government's gunpoint? Why is it that Marxism/Communism can only exist when it is enforced in oppressive authoritarian dictatorships? What makes you think that your "modified" scheme will work when Marxism/communism has failed spectacularly everywhere it has been implemented?
              • I'm updating my journal entry which is almost a copy of this post. Its very early in the morning where I am and this might be just as bad as my first entry, but I believe this is better. If you want to reply you can use the journal entry.

                If you really read my journal you know I'm not initially or ever advocating "providing everybody with the same material wealth". Instead I would have the wealthy nations provide more food, birth control, and education to the poorer countries than currently happens.

                Why is it that Marxism/Communism can only exist when it is enforced in oppressive authoritarian dictatorships? Because human nature causes most people to think only of themselves, their immediate friends, family, and about two generations of children ahead. Eventual great grandchildren will have to fend for themselves, as will the rest of the state/country/world. Consider the socialist properties of the Canadian health care system and several semi-socialist countries in northern Europe. I admit my ignorance about the details, but in general the haves pay a lot of taxes so the have-not get much more decent health care, and in the N.Euro. countries, education, and housing. These are not authoritarian dictatorships.

                Remember when a lot of electronics were made in Japan, but as Japan became a first world country the factories moved to Taiwan and China? Same with clothing and shoes to Mexico, China, and Indonesia? What do you think will happen if eventually every country in the world raises itself to first world status? Where will Americans get cheap Nikes? Prices could double or triple as labor costs increase. How many middle-class Americans will pay for the equivalent of $200 Nikes? What will happen to Nike's bottom line? Just as poor Chinese and Mexicans today can get flip-flops and clothes for a fraction of American prices, so will the majority of the middle class in the future. Instead of brand name clothing, it will be as generic and cheap as possible.

                This works for clothing, but what about electronics and other luxury items? I envision a mother-board going for $300 by today's prices because labor costs in Taiwan will cost the same there as in the USA. So there are massive layoffs in entertainment / electronics companies. All the out of work people will not be able to afford services putting others out of work and causing a global recession. Labor prices will drop in response and possibly there is a balance that can be achieved. At what cost though? The middle class as we know it in America is priced out of many luxury items and services, so for the same amount of work, a dollar doesn't go as far.

                Here's where I start talking about the environment. The earth has 6,000,000,000 people living on it. Many educated people who make their living studying the effects of humanity on the planet think that is too many for the earth to remain in its present condition. If those six billion people all want to live a lifestyle like that of the average American, it would take eight earths to provide that much and still keep the nature and population balance. So either our planet ends up striped clean of all biodiversity and resources, at which point the six billion people go to war over what has been acquired, or some serious efforts are made to reduce the population and waste being generated. One way to reduce the population is with birth control. Half the people on this earth follow a religion that generally frowns on this. Another option is by education and feeding the people living now. In every nation where the standard of living improved, birthrates went down as families no longer needed huge families to work the fields, or help work in factories to support the family. Parents no longer felt they needed as many children caring for them in old age, and having large families became recognized as a financial burden. This is why if you look at paragraph two you see "I would have the wealthy nations provide more food, birth control, and education to the poorer countries than currently happens."

                How to pay for these three things? Not an easy question and I'm no economist. I'm still in college and I wouldn't have posted that journal entry if I didn't want it ripped to shreds so I could learn more. I admit I want to turn some heads and get more people to think how I think about this topic, but I will gladly listen to anyone who can offer different future scenarios. Tell me why capitalism will educate the poor counties and save the planet before humans overrun earth like locusts. I see parts, not all, of socialism as the best solution to this problem. When it comes to reducing waste I am much less certain than I was when I wrote the first journal entry. Capitalism is excellent for finding a balance between supply and demand, but how is it possible to cut out the fat and waste? If companies quit competing against each other and instead worked together, huge marketing costs would be saved and prices could be lower for goods, but the marketing industry would lose jobs, not to mention companies wouldn't put as much into R&D. Innovation slows, and if profit is capped too low people won't work as hard because there won't be the same amount of gain. Like I said earlier, though, six billion people would require eight earths to let them drive SUVs, have 50" wide-screen TVs and bathe in scented oil from The Body Shop. It seems to me if six billion people want equality there are going to be many sacrifices ahead. Capitalism doesn't seem well suited for this job, but representative democratic socialism just might be.
                • Why is it that Marxism/Communism can only exist when it is enforced in oppressive authoritarian dictatorships? Because human nature causes most people to think only of themselves, their immediate friends, family, and about two generations of children ahead.

                  Exactly... Marxism/Communism is an unworkable system because it runs contradictory to human nature. Why not let the discussion end there? People are not programmed to show the same amount of concern for a complete stranger as they would a family member, or a friend. That's simply how we work.

                  Also, don't fool yourself into believing that you, as a self-proclaimed socialist, are any different from a marxist. You're not. Individual rights are cast aside by socialists and marxists. Some would argue that it's a matter of degree. I make no distrinctions... You are either for, or against, individual rights. Once you cross the line, you've chosen, and that's where you are.

                  You concede that Capitalism provides an excellent mechanism for balancing supply and demand, but you fail to recognize that it also seeks to minimize waste (In that it is more expensive to be wasteful, than not to be. Inefficiency is penalized in Capitamism, in the form of increased costs of production.). Take two companies providing an identical product, selling for an identical price as an example. Which of them will win out in the end? The one which can best utilize it's materials, minimizing the costs. They will be more profitable, and have the means to drive the other out of the marketplace.

                  Getting back to human nature, which economic system allows people the highest degree of freedom? Which allows the individual the greatest amount of personal choice? Which economic system demands the least amount of sacrifice?

                  I realize that from a detached perspective, such as that of a student engaged in scholarly pursuits, these questions seem somewhat less than noble, and that the "people must adjust their lifestyles for the greater good" position seems a perfectly reasonable stance. The reality is that only Capitalism respects the rights of the individual, and that "the greater good" is a myth used by those who seek power to influence those that are ruled.

                  We have seen the devastating results of socialism/marxism in practice. It results in the mismanagement of resources, including both raw materials, the means of production, and the application of labor. There is never going to be a 5 year plan that can successfully anticipate the needs of the moment. While capitalism cannot predict those needs either, it is certainly far more dynamic in responding to those needs once they are revealed.

                  Understand that the only "equality" that we should strive for is equality of opportunity. Beyond that, you'd like to see equality of outcome, and that is something that is never going to happen.

                  We, as people, are not equal. Some people are smarter than others. Some are stronger. Some are faster. Some are more creative.

                  These countless differences in people ensure that the various outcomes of our lives will vary tremendously. Capitalism allows people to make the best use of their individual, disparate talents, allowing us to be rewarded based on how useful our talents are to those seeking them. Beyond that, what else could be hoped for?

                  With that as a backgound, socialist schemes don't hold much appeal. If I put my talents to good use, and I can afford better health care than someone else, should I not be entitled to it? Health care, just like anything else, is a limited resource. Shouldn't price determine the allocation of that resource just as it does in any other market?

                  If not price, what else should be used? Need? Who determines the person in greater need? Is there a panel of experts? A single arbiter? Would there be a board of appeals? Is a street person more "needy" than someone that runs a company?

                  If there is some central controlling authority, is there any way to ensure that their influence isn't bought? How can we prevent corruption, or the playing of favorites?

                  You can't. It all comes back to the fact that socialism/communism is inherently unsuited to human nature. Life isn't fair, and people will never truly be equal. Capitalism makes the best of a bad situation, while allowing people the greatest amount of freedom, and opportunity, and for that reason, it is the best possible economic system for humankind.

                  • Thank you for replying. I forgot from my basic economics class how capitalism does penalize waste and that is a good thing. How do you feel about social services and programs such as welfare? Like you say I support giving every person equal opportunity. I may not have said it clearly or at all in my posts, but I'm under no illusions that all people are equal. If in my utopian future some people don't want to take part, then they don't get all, some, or any of the benefits. I don't know which.

                    To me welfare is good if it helps children have equal opportunity, and it gives parents a chance to get their life on track. As many states in the USA are doing, those benefits end after 5 years if the parent doesn't get on with their life. Thats fair to some degree.

                    What do you think of semi-socialist policies in Canada and northern European countries giving basic equal health care paid for by the upper classes?

                    Do you think my concerns about the environment are wrong? My figures off? Since we're both presumably concerned about the next two generations ahead of us, something ought to be done to help the planet and the lives of future generations, or are your grandchildren set for life already?
                    • Welfare programs have a couple of major strikes against them:

                      First, they are funded through taxes, which is a clever way of taking money from the people that are actually out there earning it, and giving it to those that aren't.

                      Second, the programs simply don't work.

                      Understand that there is a difference between welfare and unemployment. Unemployment is not taxpayer funded... It is paid by employers and employees (Paid by the employer, but the cost has a direct relation to the salaries that employees earn).

                      Unemployment insurance does what you described above. It helps people get through while looking for work.

                      Welfare, on the other hand, is not funded by the individuals that receive its assistance. You mention that some States have placed caps on welfare benefits. That represents a reform of the welfare system. It's a step in the right direction, and in the States where such a limitation exists, a greater percentage of the participants are able to get off the program, and become self-sufficient.

                      That fact alone speaks volumes about the net-effect of Johnson's "War on Poverty." Government subsidies do more harm than good. Entitlement programs victimize the very people that they are intended to help.

                      Earlier in America's history, there were no government entitlement programs. Instead, when a person or family needed help, they turned to friends, family, local charities, or other organizations in their community. Assistance came from people they knew, with names, and faces. There was a sense of obligation not only to return to self-sufficiency, but to repay the debt of gratitude in some way, because the help had come from the community.

                      Today, assistance comes to the mailbox, or is directly deposited into a bank account. There is little shame in it. There is nobody to say "thank you" to, nor is there any reason to feel a sense of shame.

                      I'll never forget watching a program like 60 minutes, or some such program, interviewing a person on public assistance. The lady was in Wisconsin, back when Tommy Thompson had just become Governor, and had implemented the 5 year welfare limitation. The lady was very angry... She actually referred to her benefits as her "salary," as though she had earned it. I have had a job since the age of 13. I worked all through high school, and all of my adult life. I cannot tell you how much it angered me to hear this lady upset that she was finally going to have to find a way to pay her own way through life.

                      But I don't want to turn this into a diatribe about some lady in Wisconsin...

                      All of the issues you raise untimately leave me flat because they are all forms of wealth redistribution. Welfare... National Health Care... Food Stamps... Blah, blah, blah...

                      Nothing in this life is free. Someone is paying. I am perfectly willing to pay my own way through life. Further, if there's something that I want, or even something that I need, I have no right to demand that you, or anyone else pay for it. The moment I try, or have the government do my bidding, then I have forfeit my own property rights.

                      Once you do that, you have mothing left. If you have no right to property, you have no freedom at all. Your labor can be seized... You can be conscripted into the military, or some other "publically worthwhile" cause. They can dictate what you read, or see, or listen to.

                      The point is that once you allow government to cross the line, they can redefine the line repeatedly, whenever "the masses" demand it.

                      That is the fundamental difference between a "Democracy" an a "Republic."

                      In a Democracy, government can undertake any activity, so long as it has the support of the majority. It is, in essence, mob rule.

                      In a Republic, there are limitations on what a government can undertake, no matter what popular opinion may be at the moment. A government has a Charter, and it may not exceed the limits of that charter.

                      It is for that reason that a Republic is the only form of government worthy of consideration for a people that ascribe the rights theory.

                      Now bringing it around to your questions about the environment, sure, I want my children to be able to grow up in a world with fresh air, and clean water, and I want that for their children as well.

                      Does that mean that I think the only way to get there is by placing artificial limits on the quality of life for people in the United States, or anywhere else in the world? Of course not.

                      The answer lies not in turning back the clock. It lies in making the breakthroughs that allow us to elevate the rest of the world to our standard of living, and do so in such a way as to ensure the long term survival of the species.

                      It means ending the witch hunt against nuclear power, which remains the most efficient, and cleanest means of meeting our energy demands. It also means finding a better way to manage the waste that is produced. We need to begin testing the second generation of nuclear power... Why haven't we built a pebble-bed reactor? No possibility of melt-down... Dramatically reduced amount of waste material... Same amount of power output.

                      These things should be popping up all over the place until we can find a safe way to harness fusion power.

                      Also recognize that they age of oil is coming to a close. Fuel-cells will be taking off 10 years from now. They'll be fairly common 15 years from now.

                      The problems we face environmentally have solutions. We need to refine the solutions that we've already uncovered, and we need to discover the solutions that yet remain. Don't hamstring humanity in the interim...

                      It's very easy for the "have-nots" or the "have-lesses" to cry foul, and demand that first world nations abandon centuries of human progress. Our ancestors worked hard to provide the foundation upon which we stand. I don't think it's time to jump off.

                      Besides, there's an asteroid coming in 2019. Bask in excess while you can. The sky is falling!

                • On the subject of capitalism... I always find it amusing how die-hard capitalists insist that it's all fair labour that keeps them where they are, and then they insist on police protection and restrictive laws protection their business. Paid for, by the taxes of the lower classes.

                  If it was really a free, open market, they'd have to watch out for those they screwed over.

                  So really, these uber-independant capitalist businessmen can only thrive in an situation where they're being supported by the public.

                  IMHO I think a socialism, as currently practiced, is the only reasonable way in the long-term. Even if people should all succeed on their own merits, you can't expect the same of children. Schooling, nutrition, and the like are all very important. I'm not ready to damn the child because their parents are bad with money. If I dislike a welfare state I'd rather proactively make sure it doesn't perpetuate instead of just complaining about it. If that means I pay 50% tax instead of 25% and can live in a world where I won't get mugged to pay for someone's food, I'm okay with it.
    • You do know that they're talking about one of the experimental landers, right? Just out curiosity, exactly how would YOU have fixed it? Do you think they should order another one out of the catalog? Start the engineering teams rebuilding one from scratch?

      Sheesh, cut him some slack.

    • by RocketGeek ( 566822 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @08:27PM (#4048240) Homepage
      This attitude of people being "real" engineers, and others being perceived as garage tinkerers is not only arrogant and misguided, it is what holds non governmental spaceflight back.

      I've seen supposed "real"engineers, in fact some with degrees from Universities such as Oxford, and supposed space engineering backgrounds, blow up rocket motors through simple and avoidable mistakes. Then again, I've seen non engineers, working without much funding (the supposed garage tinkerers), build comparable rocket motors that quite literally blow the "real" engineers efforts away in terms of reliability and robustness.

      The difference, is those without the attitude, and without the government/big business mentality, seem to have a better overall grasp of how the systems go together, not always, but in my experience, generally enough that it is noticeable. There's also another facet those you refer to as garage tinkerers have that I tend to see missing in many "real" engineers in space related disciplines; it's called common sense.

      As for your duct tape remark, and your comment on real engineers working out designs. I take it you've never been in one of the older space capsules ? It's always so easy to be an armchair expert when you have the benefit of ignorance to back you up. I would not, if I were you, ever go inside a Vostok or a Soyuz capsule, because if your comments above are anything to go by, you'd have a fit.

      When I worked professionally in the space industry on a project in Russia, I was amazed at the simplicity of the early manned space capsules. Technology has moved on sufficiently now, that people such as John Carmack (who is far from a garage tinkerer) could develop a manned capsule to match those, of that I have no doubt.

      I can't wait until John Carmack gets something manned flying. It will be like DC-X all over again. All these nay saying supposed "real" engineers suddenly changing their tune and saying "well I thought it would work actually, but I didn't say anything". Yeah right.

      Armadillo Aerospace will succeed where others have failed, precisely because they don't have the attitude so prevalent in large aerospace engineering projects.

      • At NASA's previous incarnation (NACA?) one rocket's component was a wife's hairpin. This was before lots of money...

        Also, if you contact 'em has interesting stuff about Gerald Bull's gun in extra-large form being used to propel humans(!) into space, and I know the CEO, he's only a bit nuts ;) and knows his physics. Not that I want to be first person to try it...

        Maybe this will lead to that space-sex-tourism/prostitution business I keep wanting to own someday...

    • The saying about rocket science is true: "Rocket science ain't rocket science anymore".

      Forget innovation. There's all the tech we need already worked. We need the economics to work out- launching a lot does wonders for the economics. Launch every day and twice on tuesdays and the costs come down- that's the big secret. That's why the Space Shuttle costs so much: they don't/can't launch enough.

      Carmack is smart enough to do this stuff- he doesn't need professional engineers, but he can/will get them as he needs to. But rockets aren't hard.

    • by D_Fresh ( 90926 ) <slashdot@d o u g a l e x a n d> on Saturday August 10, 2002 @08:33PM (#4048256) Journal
      Yeah, you're probably right. I know at least a dozen guys on my block alone who are designing and building single-stage-to-orbit manned launch vehicles. Nothing [] good [] ever [] came out of garage tinkering, anyhow.

      • Yeah, you're probably right. I know at least a dozen guys on my block alone who are designing and building single-stage-to-orbit manned launch vehicles. Nothing [] good [] ever [] came out of garage tinkering, anyhow.

        Would you trust your life to an Apple 1?
        • You're still missing the point. Of course I wouldn't trust my life to an Apple I, just like I wouldn't put the SR-71 prototype into production without building a second version or race in the latest experimental Mclaren. Just because the research takes place in a garage-equivalent and bends metal with trucks and elbow grease doesn't make it any less valid. The glamor of the finished product always masks the sweat, cursing, and unglamorous methods that went into its creation. But it's people like you that motivate companies to keep their betas under wraps - if you don't understand the creation process, then the road to innovation and genius is paved with what appears to be scary, duct-taped crap. Try to grow an imagination.

          BTW, stupid error in my original comment - this is not a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle at all, just a pod that takes a man straight up into space and straight back down. SSTO is much harder!

    • I would suggest that you read any of the accounts of the early space program, particularly the debacle of the first launch of Mercury-Atlas 1. NASA's real engineers put people into space using a lot of "a wing and prayer" techniques. As for duct tape, Apollo 13 would never had made it home without it. It was integral to the jury rigged adapter to fit the CM Lithium Hydroxide canisters into the LM system, since the "real engineers" hadn't bothered to spec the same carts for both systems, despite the fact that the LM Lifeboat was in fact a recognized mission mode. Tom Kelly's pretty hard on himself for that decision in his book on moon lander development.
  • HP engines..... (Score:2, Informative)

    by digitallis ( 249804 )
    Interesting that they want to use HP engines. Last I checked, these were smaller engines used simply for course correction. (aren't the OMS engines on the Shuttle hydrogen peroxide?) The logistics of a directed hypergolic reaction outside of the microgravity of space must be an interesting on as well. (How they plan to get enough of the stuff to take off....)

    FOr that matter, I don't see any plans for an orbital insertion vehical/stage. The site isn't very clear on the business plan.
    • Hydrogen Peroxide + Kerosene, or possibly something else. A pure H2O2 engine has as its exhaust a 50/50 mixture of water and O2. Because of all that really hot O2, you can put just about anything combustible in the chamber and it will burn.
    • Actually, Hydrogen Peroxide is an ok/poor fuel on its own, but mixed with a hydrocarbon like Kerosene it's probably capable of making orbit in a single stage.

      In some ways it's better than LOX- it's 'specific impulse density' is slightly higher than LOX. This means you get more kick per unit volume of tank (although it is heavier too). However, since rockets are mostly tanks, it's not a silly fuel.

      In normal applications HP ("HTP") is used for attitude jets because it is a 'storable propellent'. This means that you can put it in a tank and leave it there for over a year without any big issues. LOX evaporates. Also HTP is a monopropellent, so it's fairly easy to work with.

      The Space Shuttle uses storable propellent for its OMS engines, although not HTP. Some russian rockets use HTP as a fuel to run their turbopumps IRC.

      • So if I'm bored some day I go pick up some hydrogen peroxide, mix it with kerosene, and make some sort of remote detonation device and head over to the other side of the beach?
        • Nah. Stuff you get over the counter is at the very most 70%; probably more like 35%, but in any case its loaded with stabilisers and topped up with water. The stuff for rocketry has no stabilisers, and no water, it's also very difficult to get hold of- almost no one will sell it to you.

          Anything below 72% has too much water in it to react well, it gives you damp steam with some O2 mixed in. It will burn Kero, but not well.

          • Re:HP engines..... (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The hydrogen peroxide you get at the store is 3% hydrogen peroxide, rest water, and maybe a bit of salt (so saline solution, eh.) 30% H2O2 will melt your skin off faster than any acid you could hope to find. It's shipped in very thick plastic container (brown to keep the UV out of it, makes H2O2 turn to water + oxygen really fast), with about 3" of solid styrofam packing around it, then a cardboard box. It's very serriously nasty stuff, and at concetrations of more than 35% will turn to water on it's own, given enough vibration, heat or sunlight.
            • Yeah, but they do sell stronger stuff for some limited applicability- I think you can buy the 35% stuff in small bottles for bleaching wood.

              The 30+% H2O2 is not quite as bad as you say; it is better than most acids, but you don't mess around with it- it certainly can kill you. I heard of one guy that got covered with the stuff- he was hosed down, ripped off all his clothes and got hosed down some more; and he was completely OK, except he was a bit white for a few days (as was everyone else around him, but for a different reason! ;-)

            • I work with H2O2 regularly and I can tell you from experience that concentrations of 50% and down are comparatively benign. Concentrations of 30% and 50% will give you a nasty white rash if you come in contact with them. The rash forms within about 10 seconds of contact, faster if the concentration is higher. The rash last for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour and then goes away. Meanwhile, the skin remains tender for some time afterwards.

              Concentrations exceeding approximately 74% require more care and consideration, both in storage and handling.

        • So if I'm bored some day I go pick up some hydrogen peroxide, mix it with kerosene, and make some sort of remote detonation device and head over to the other side of the beach?

          Well, maybe. The "Hydrogen Peroxide" you can buy at the drug store is 97% water and 3% H2O2.

          But, let's say that you can find someone to sell you some High Test Peroxide (usually around 85%, but sometimes up to 97% H2O2). They're going to be incredibly unstable once you mix them -- a standard rule of H2O2 safety is to not put it in any container that's ever had hydrocarbons in it.

    • <HUMOR>

      HP engines aren't any good since Carly took over. THey should use IBM engines instead.

      As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, HUMOR tags have been added for the humor impaired.
  • Rocket Jump (Score:2, Funny)

    by red5 ( 51324 )
    Space tourism. w00t!

    Just so long as it doesn't involve a rocket jump.
  • You know, I like Junkyard Wars [], but I wouldn't want to risk my life to it.
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:37PM (#4048084)
    So his day job involves being one of the world's best software engineers... and in his spare time he is a rocket scientist? Someone tell God to spread the smarts around, ok? Maybe the Joe-sixpacks and Soccer-moms could get a little?
    • Someone tell God to spread the smarts around, ok?

      Come on -- I can be twice the rocket-scientist he is, given enough dough. It's not the smarts that needs to be spread around (I would wager that many /.ers are capable of exactly what Carmack is doing, if not more), it's rather the tens of millions of disposable income that he has but we do not that's keeping us from similar (possibly - make that undoubtedly - better rocket projects)

      for most of us -- by the time we have a tenth of that amount of money, we will have kids, family, and retirement to think about. Time, energy, and ambition all have gone down -- when you are worried about your teenage children and the abundance of E in raves, spare-time rocket-building take a backseat. Young + have money for an expensive hobby does not make you a good rocket-scientist by any means (even though i admire his spirit and all)

  • by ArsSineArtificio ( 150115 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:40PM (#4048095) Homepage
    Presumably to be award to those on their way to destruction, or possibly those who have no chance to survive make their time.
  • by kyras ( 472503 ) on Saturday August 10, 2002 @07:44PM (#4048107) Homepage
    But, Carmack says, "we are taking complimentary directions to space."

    I hope those directions are up.
  • Why not call it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Valar ( 167606 )
    the BFR (big f-ing rocket).
  • John Romero will for a failing space flight program based in Dallas to compete with Caramack!

    I wonder if Romero can tuck all that hair inside a space helmet?
  • Quad rocket jumping on DM3, you can take the whole map with you...except of course, they won't survive the jump! hahaa
  • 1 - Look down at your feet
    2 - Jump and fire rocket at same time ...
    3 - ???
    4 - PROFITS!!!
    (sorry couldn't resist)
  • Armadillo Aerospace...not to be confused with Brian Walker [], the OTHER backyard rocket guy.

    Maybe these two should sit down and just *talk* about rocketing to outer space in a tin can built for two.

    At least Walker isn't advocating that someone *else* sit in his fuel-powered deathtrap.

    • Perhaps you should do some research, or even read Slashdot more often. In a Slashdot Interview, Walker mentioned his meeting John Carmack, etc.

      Personally, I'd trust myself with Carmack's work over this Walker guy's any day. Carmack is methodical, intelligent, observant, and based on the news archive at Armadillo very careful.
  • because he secretly knows that the story line in Quake(II mostly) isn't fake, and that he knows we need a to hurry up with any kind of space flight systems development for hope of beating the aliens many years from now
  • cramck just wants to use the phrase

  • Is not quite so much what he can achieve through this company, but what the project contributes to his first love: gaming.

    From a programming standpoint, Quake 3 is a marvel, but I wouldn't exactly call it a marvel in game physics. The game relies mostly on characters within bounding boxes. There isn't much interaction with the environment other than shooting at objects, jumping, or falling.

    From a physics standpoint, the most impressive things about the Quake series is most likely its lighting. Even though this is a pre-calculated lightmap, radiosity isn't really a simple thing.

    Trespasser was years ahead of Quake in this area. Boxes would shatter, and each pieces of wood would scatter everywhere. Too bad the game didn't do much else right.

    Doom 3 is supposed to be worlds better. Enemies are supposed to be able to fall down steps, more interaction, etc.

    Remember that the Graphics Engine for Doom was done a while back, around the time he started Armadillo Airspace. Think about what's left for him to explore. AI and Game Physics are two big regions.

    I'm expecting Doom 3 to be a lot of things that all other Id games weren't. AA plays a big part of my expectations.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'd like to add a few points. Chrysler used to make great automobiles. Then Toyota made better ones. Sometimes when I order a big mac the lettuce has fallen out of the bun. Then I ask myself, why didn't I just make Kraft Dinner? But seriously, I read the article and decided that someday I would like an optical mouse from Logitch. This would really make it easier to play Counterstrike. I am especially excited about Counterstrike with antialiasing.
    • Boxes did not shatter in Trespasser.
      Pieces of wood and the crates in the game were seperate things, and they did not become each other.

      Trespasser had impressive physics, only if you could see past the bugs. The bugs were the worst part of Trespasser. The physics especially was riddled with bugs. Quake's physics was primitive, but it was quite solid. [except for bunny hopping...]
  • Well I can hope can't I?
  • I remember building model rockets back in the 8th grade. Mine wasn't the best painted, and it's fins weren't perfectly straight, but it flew and I had a lot of fun. I guess I needed this article to remind me of that. Thanks John ( and Slashdot ).

    So, anyone have any links for someone looking to get into amature rockets?
  • I know I'm going to get modded down for this, but it has to be said:

    1. Enough with the negativity about this kind of thing being better left to the professionals. Do you really think that the professionals can do any better? It's not like NASA has been pounding out the new rocket designs. You have to give Carmack credit in that he's experimenting and moving forward rather than getting bogged down in bureacracy and corporate politics.

    2. DOOM 3 shouldn't even be mentioned here. It's not like there's any kind of real overlap between rocketry and game development. I love the guy who seems to think that Carmack will now understand physics better so he can put it to good use in DOOM 3. Bizarre.
    • Enough with the negativity

      rocketry is DANGEROUS, caution and skepticism are not negative, they are an asset. (you don't want the thing dropping on bystanders head, right ? )

      about this kind of thing being better left to the professionals.

      Of course the R&D team should be made primarily of prefessionalists (see above). But except for carmack and, perhaps, Widget the armadillo, my guess is most of the team IS made of professionalists.

      Do you really think that the professionals can do any better?

      again, in such areas only professionals can do any good, but they should work in an environment encouraging both real progress and methodical, rational QA.

      You have to give Carmack credit in that he's experimenting and moving forward

      no disagreement from me, any man making such a move deserves my respect.

      good luck for his team and the others (serious) teams working on such projects. Their success are the human race's .
    • NASA is the problem - go read Kings of the High Frontier [] to understand the solution.
  • Maybe Commander Keen has finally gone to John's Head....

    Billy Blaze, eight year-old genius, working diligently in his backyard clubhouse has created an interstellar starship from old soup cans, rubber cement and plastic tubing. While his folks are out on the town and the babysitter has fallen asleep, Billy travels into his backyard workshop, dons his brother's football helmet, and transforms into...

    COMMANDER KEEN--defender of Earth!

    In his ship, the Bean-with-Bacon Megarocket, Keen dispenses galactic justice with an iron hand!
  • Am I the only one who doesn't think the guy who made games about demons coming from a space base should be the one helping to fund tourist space shuttle trips?
  • Cut and paste from the web site:

    Too many users... blah blah blah

    Try again in a few minutes...

  • I think ole Carmack may have taken the concept of "rocket jumping" a little too far....
  • You mean, like, stomach-mounted rocket launchers? :)
  • in all versions of quake, rockets never really followed any real physics. they always flew at a constant speed, no matter how fast you were running (flying) while you launched them. doesnt he know the speed of the rocket should be rocket thrust speed + speed of person at time of launch?
    • Did it occur to you that Carmack doesnt actually right the games, he writes the engines. The physics behind individual objects (rockets for example) would be coded by the game-creator.. not the engine-creator.
      • David you idiot. Carmack wrote the Quake-C and other ingame code for Quake, Quake2, and Quake3, including the rocket physics.

        I personally think that it would be retarded to add player movement to rocket movement, and it would remove a lot of the fun from the games.
  • That's kinda cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kosipov ( 218202 )
    I think it is an interesting symbolism that Carmack is involved in design of rockets for cheap access to space.

    In many science fiction books there are two trends for the near future (there are a lot more but these are two major ones). Distopia is typically presented by heavily cybernetic society where the humanity is not really concerned about space. The other trend, is diametrically opposite with humanity focused on space exploration.

    Carmack is in a sense a protagonist of future distopia as a designer of cybernetic worlds that are becoming increasingly important to our society (graphics acceleration business, success of 3D animation, even the debates over the impact of the violence in video games). People like Carmack working on rockets is a sign that our future does not have to be a choice between space and cyberspace.
  • BANG! ZOOM! Right to the moon!
  • Who are the pros? NASA? These guys can't get their metric/English units converted properly in their software. I doubt Carmack would make that mistake. The European Space Agency? They put the wrong software in an Arianne rocket which ended in its destruction.

    Seems to me there's plenty of room for "non" professionals in the field because the pros are making plenty of stupid moves.

    Kind of reminds me of my boss. Our software has a wide range of applications but he wants to stick to areas where we have "niche knowledge." Well, the fact is, we won't get "niche knowledge" in other niches unless we actually apply it to other areas. Want to become a pro? You gotta be a novice first. Kudos to Carmack.
  • All of the /. joke posters must be home alone, chugging beers until their world becomes a haze of barley and hops and passes out.

    Why do I say this? Because there are NO Carmack/Quake/Rocketry jokes.


    New Poll:
    Name of Carmack's first rocket:

    Pineapple Express
    HAB (High Altitude Bastard)
    BFR (Big F*n Rocket)

    Or... "I hope that he leaves /noclip on with these rockets!"

    Or... "What's the code to turn godmode on in his rocketship?"

    Or... "Will he call the rockets that crash WADs?"

    Or... "To Hell with outfitting the ship with a BFG, I'll be happy if he puts in a BFP (Big F*n Parachute)."

    Or... "If the ship's AI is the same as the Quake bots, then I think I'll stick to driving"

    Or... "Will a little network jack icon appear just before you crash and die?"

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.