1) Exotic Fuels
Amateur rockets don't get to space or orbit because they're generally limited to low specific impulse solid fuels. Is there much of a gain in specific impulse to be obtained by further research into hybrid (ie, plastic/nitrous oxide) propellants? How about exotic chemicals (buckyballs, multi-atomic nitrogen, fluorine for example) - any route for amateur utilization of these?
Brian Walker / Rocket Guy: I am using 90% H2o2 because using it as a monopropellant is the safest method of propulsion for my particular rocket. There is no chance of a catastrophic explosion or fire. This alone eliminates about one half of all standard problems that are encountered for any rocket flight.
2) operational testing?
by Nehemiah S
What kind of testing have you done for your design(s)? Wind tunnel tests, computational fluid dynamics, flying scale models, etc? I've also noticed that your design has changed considerably since the first time you were featured on Slashdot, and as an aerospace engineer myself it would be interesting to know what your design criteria were and how you arrived at them.
RG: My design has changed because I do not profess to be an aeronautical engineer of any sort, and as I have proceeded, I have allowed myself to make the necessary changes resulting in a better design. A number of people have a called me on several design concerns, and I listened. As for wind tunnel tests and the like, no. The rocket is near perfect in its shape, and for what I require it to do (go up and down in a relatively stable manner), it is fine.
3) Cowboy hat?
In case something goes wrong, are you planning to take with you a large ten-gallon cowboy hat to wave around on reentry?
RG: No, I'll be wearing a space suit, and a cowboy hat would not be a wise fashion accessory.
4) What about John Carmack's project?
Have you discussed rocketry with John Carmack and his friends at Armadillo Aerospace? They plan to eventually fly a manned rocket as well.
RG: Met John in Arizona back in April. I have a great deal of respect and admiration for him. We are opposites -- he is very methodical and is a computer genius. I am not. Between my Dyslexia and ADHD, it was a miracle that I made it through school at all. I simply don't have the same mental drive as Mr. Carmack does, so I do things the way that work best for me, and 18 licensed toys have served me well.
5) Funding vs technology
How much of your project requires technological innovation on your part, and how much is just a question of raising funding to duplicate existing technology that governments have already researched?
RG: 90% of what I am doing is the result of simple refinement from what has been done, time and again, over the past 50 years or so. Remember, I am not trying to orbit the earth. It is a simple elevator ride for 20 minutes.
6) Rocket Industry Efficiency
by Local Loop
Which parts or subsystems did you make, or have made, yourself, that you wish could have been purchased off the shelf for a reasonable price?
Which parts or subsystems do you think are candidates for standardization in the coming personal rocket industry?
RG: I have purchased (and will purchase) a number of components like parachutes, valves and fluid handling components, and the like. There are a great deal of parts that can be used right-off-the-shelf. As for which parts could become standardized for personal rocketry, I am not really in a position to know.
7) What's Next.
Say you are successful, and I hope you are. What's next? Do you try it again only higher? Also any plans of donating your rocket to the Smithsonian? This would definitely be considered Air & Space history and be worthy for all to view. Or on the other hand after are you looking for monetary gain? Something like pay 12 bucks to see Rocket guy's Rocket?
RG: I want to move on to a commercial launch operation which would allow a "for profit" venture to begin producing money for future development funds. The first step is "Rocket Skydiving" -- simple, catapult launched giant water rockets that can take a load of skydivers to 15,000 feet in under a minute. This would be safer than airplanes. As time progressed, we would introduce bigger and higher flying rockets, which would eventually allow non-skydivers access to 80-100 thousand foot high flights in small winged return vehicles with pilots. I would be happy to donate my capsule to Smithsonian.
8) Engine Work? by Anonymous Coward
Seems like you've done lots of mockups and landscaping, but I haven't seen any work on the actual engine (other than a single picture of it).
Having seen all the trouble with catalyst packs and such that other projects have had, how come you havn't done any test firings yet?
Have you even tested your pneumatic launcher?
RG: My facilities here are big, and I have had to continue to grow and improve things. "Landscaping" here has been minimal, and for the control of dust more than anything else (the Oregon High Desert is a dusty place). I have 15 rocket motors currently, one 2500 pound thrust motor, 6, 135 pound thrust motors (for capsule separation from fuel tank), and 8, 55 pound thrust motors (for capsule stability/guidance).
I don't know what is being referenced by "all the trouble with catalyst packs..." Peroxide reaction engines have been around for years, and follow specific scientific formulas. Some people are trying to make changes to get higher thrust, etc. As for the launcher, yes, it works perfectly. I have done the tests to demonstrate the amount of "push" it can develop. At 40 psi, it delivers 2000 pounds of push, and when the launch sleeves have cleared the launch tubes, there is only about an 8% loss of volume. As for a full test, there is a catch 22. In order to fully test the launching of an 1100 pound payload, I need to have a fully recoverable system on board, or I will destroy whatever is launched. I am in no hurry to do this test, and will do so when I am ready.
9) future of private industry space travel
I, like a lot of people, are quite skeptical about the success of your project. However, let us assume that you have launched yourself, everything went perfectly, and you are resting safely back on earth.
What do you think this will do to the future of space travel? Do you think this will set a precedent for the private industry to get involved in space travel?
RG: Regardless of people's skepticism, I am pursuing what is (and has been my dream) for my own purposes. I appreciate the importance that so many other's have placed on this effort, but I would still do it if I was alone and no one was watching. However, due to the number of people who have made comments, I do expect my experience to encourage more private participation in the field of private space industry.
10) Had to be asked...
by Dirk Pitt
How does it feel to be the only person in history preselected for the Darwin Award nominations?
RG: I do not recognize any such nomination. To my understanding, the recipients of past Darwin Awards have been stupid people doing stupid things. My project is not a candidate for such. I am not doing this because i am bored and looking for fame and fortune. On launch day, if I've any inkling that I might not survive, I simply won't go.
11) Legal issues? by crow
Have you ran into any legal issues with your rocketry? Have the government had any significant impact (pro or con)?
RG I recently met with the FAA in DC, and they are very supportive, and want to be in a position of actually being able to issue me a launch license. They have been following my efforts for the past several years, and offered to be of any assistance I need to do things legally. I was very impressed and excited by just how receptive and supportive they were.