View Poll Results: Who will win the X-Prize?

Voters
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  • SpaceShipOne

    10 43.48%
  • Pioneer Rocketplane

    3 13.04%
  • Da Vinci Project

    2 8.70%
  • Someone else

    5 21.74%
  • The Klingons

    3 13.04%
Results 1 to 27 of 27

Thread: So, who's going to win the X-Prize?

  1. #1
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    So, who's going to win the X-Prize?

    Well, what'll it be?

    The front runners I know of are:

    Rutan's SpaceShipOne
    Pioneer Rocketplane
    The Da Vinci Project
    The Canadian Arrow

    Go here for a huge list of all of the others

    Who will win? A lot of the companies may be doing a lot of work in secret, and there are a great deal of them. My favorite one is Pioneer Rocketplane, as their vehicle, Pathfinder, is an HTHL (Horizontal Takeoff/ Horizontal Landing) rocketplane that takes off from a normal airport, refuels from a tanker in the air, and then goes suborbital. It lands with the help of jet engines at a normal airport. I think this one has a the greatest potential.

    Which is not to say the others don't have merit. Burt Rutan is a genius; we talked about him quite a bit on this thread. His idea, to launch SpaceShipOne from a plane, seems realtively sound, and it sure looks cool. Burt wants to reach the final frontier by December 17, 2003, and we all know what that date is (100th anniversary of powered flight). The Da Vinci Project would launch from a balloon, make a suborbital flight, and then land with the help of a shuttlecock-like ballute which would double as a heat shield and a landing cushion.

    So, let's hear your opinions!

    My predictions for who will be first
    --------------------------------------------
    SpaceShipOne
    Pioneer Rocketplane
    Da Vinci Project
    Canadian Arrow
    Kistler Aerospace

    My personal favorites
    ----------------------------
    Pioneer Rocketplane
    Da Vinci
    SpaceShipOne

  2. #2
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    Rutan. And it would be HTOL (Horizontal Takeoff Or Landing). -Colt

  3. #3
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    It seems there is interest in the private space race on this BB. Also see
    http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=4837

  4. #4
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    I have to go with Rutan. He has the track record of being able to do what he says he will do.

  5. #5
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    Rutan, Rutan, Rutan.... I agree that he has a good track record, and he is really good at non-conventional, polka-dot, camoufage, windows; but he has no engine yet.

  6. #6
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    Give it to Rutan just for looks. I love that thing.

  7. #7
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    I pick other. Any entry which uses old, tested technology has the edge. Conventional rockets all the way!. However I'll concede that Rutan has an outside chance because HE is involved.

  8. #8
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    I can't believe I'm the only person who's voted for the Klingons so far....

  9. #9
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    You're not alone - Q'apla!

    (For several days I've had this fascination with the Klingons 8) )


    But seriously, perhaps we should change the thread's topic - who do you think is going to win, and who do you think should win?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJim
    To Mars!
    To Mars! :: clink of glasses ::

    Oh, wait -- I thought you were making a toast.

  11. #11
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    Nuts. My eloquent post disappeared.

    I type onward: I voted for none of the above. While I figure Rutan has the best chance at the moment, statistically there are waaaaay more teams under that choice, so I'm sticking with their combined chances.

    P.S. - Can you say why you like Pioneer so much? I checked out their site and some news, but AFAIK, they have only a bunch of nifty specifications. Can't find any hardware or even testing. You got something else?

  12. #12
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    P.S. - Can you say why you like Pioneer so much? I checked out their site and some news, but AFAIK, they have only a bunch of nifty specifications. Can't find any hardware or even testing. You got something else?
    Sure do. I bought a book a few years ago written by one of the founders of Pioneer Rocketplane, which explained their plans in more detail than the website does. Pioneer Rocketplane's Pathfinder has more capability than most of the other entries in several categories.

    First, unlike the Da Vinci Project or SpaceShipOne, Pathfinder takes off on its own, from a normal runway, using normal, off-the-shelf jet engines. It then fuels its rocket engines from an aerial tanker. This allows it to take off while light, which stops it from having to use schemes like Rutan's aircraft or Da Vinci's balloon, and I think runway takeoffs are ultimately more practical. Aerial refueling has been nearly perfected over many years by the Air Force and is done hundreds of thousands of times a year.

    The Pathfinder then fires its engines, does a suborbital run, where it can release a payload with a small booster stage (the Pathfinder has a payload bay and a crew cabin), unlike most of the other entries. It then lands using its jet engines on a normal runway, eliminating the danger of a dead-stick landing.

    Since the Pathfinder can carry crew and payload from normal runways, it can easily be used for fast package delivery, military uses (not that I am in favor of that, but it is suitable), scientific uses (I believe it has a payload range in range of a Pegasus XL), and extremely fast passenger travel, using existing runways and airports.

    That's why I like Pioneer Rocketplane.

    BigJim

  13. #13
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    BigJim

    from a normal runway
    Ballon aerodromes were normal launch sites for centuries.

    schemes..... practical........nearly perfected....payload
    Balloons were practical, perfected, schemes for longer.

    da Vinci has a payload of 900#, for now.

  14. #14
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    However, nowadays, with existing airports all over the world, it is far easier to take off normally from an airport and land normally at them than to take off using a balloon and land using parachutes or other such systems (like ballutes). While this doesn't meant the other entries aren't good, I still think Pioneer has the technological edge. This especially holds true for passenger transport, where the Pathfinder's ability to take off and land at normal airports gives it an absolute advantage.

    Balloons were practical, perfected, schemes for longer.
    Aerial refueling has also been nearly perfected and is done more often than ballooning is now. Also, the types of people that would be piloting spacecraft would be more likely to be experienced with aerial refueling than balloons.

  15. #15
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    How long can Pioneer stay in a 'holding pattern' over a conventional airport during bad weather, labour disputes, SARS quarintines, etc?

  16. #16
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    Don't be silly PM.

    BigJim: Well, perhaps, but I remain unconviced. I'm not seeing a huge fuel savings by refueling in mid-air. Might as well just add 100 gallons of fuel and skip the re-fuelling.

    As for package delivery, flights, etc. , that seems real unlikely. In that respect, it's just a regular airplane with a rocket engine. If that were feasable, we'd already have a replacement for the Concorde by smooshing a rocket in the back of a 767.

    BTW, do they have anything built?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanoda
    Don't be silly PM.

    BigJim: Well, perhaps, but I remain unconviced. I'm not seeing a huge fuel savings by refueling in mid-air. Might as well just add 100 gallons of fuel and skip the re-fuelling.

    As for package delivery, flights, etc. , that seems real unlikely. In that respect, it's just a regular airplane with a rocket engine. If that were feasable, we'd already have a replacement for the Concorde by smooshing a rocket in the back of a 767.

    BTW, do they have anything built?
    Planes can typically fly with much more weight than their landing gear can handle. And a plane's lift increases with speed--a plane travelling at 400 mph has more available lift than one travelling at 150 mph. They can also takeoff with quite a bit more weight than they can land, which has some annoying implications for emergency routines, but is pretty much irrelevant here.

    Anyway, increasing the fuel load at takeoff means increasing the strength of the landing gear and their attachments to the frame with means increasing their mass which starts eating into your fuel really quickly. Taking off also uses a lot of fuel (particularly if your engines are going to be optimized for high-speed high-altitude).

    All in all, it's a pretty clever approach. I guess time will tell whether it's clever enough.

  18. #18
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    I apologize for my silly comment.
    I was just trying to increase the votes for da Vinci by slinging mud and rhetoric.
    I still think it is the closest to launch, and has the best systems. But then when people think I need a new car, I tell them that when they make one that cruises at 105mph winter and summer; with the weight and intimidation of my '75 Chev, I will consider it.
    I believe in the 'brute force' approach and 'Peace Through Superior Firepower'.

  19. #19
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    That's OK, PM. I support Da Vinci too - I think all the entries are good, and I would be happy to see any of them win - I just prefer Pioneer Rocketplane, that's all. It's like with Mars probes - you may prefer one concept over another, but in the end, they all provide compelling and interesting data (that is, unless you forget to convert English to Metric :wink

  20. #20
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    What's English?

    Just kidding. I assume you mean Standard/Imperial.

    I remember the disaster vaguely, but I didn't have access to details at the time. Wasn't it the distance to Mars measurement or something?
    Sorry for the edit, I hit submit instead of preview.

  21. #21
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    Well, perhaps, but I remain unconviced. I'm not seeing a huge fuel savings by refueling in mid-air. Might as well just add 100 gallons of fuel and skip the re-fuelling.
    I think you misunderstand what is happening in the refueling - remember, the Pathfinder has two sets of engines - two F-125 fighter engines and one kerossene/oxygen RD-120 rocket engine. The Pathfinder takes off with just enough liquid oxygen to pre-chill its rocket fuel tanks, but with a small load of jet fuel. Not taking off with rocket fuel greatly decreases the take-off weight, and allows to essentially start from 30,000 feet for free. This is a similar approach to the Da Vinci Project, but I think it holds more promise since it allows the Pathfinder to operate from airports. The Pathfinder goes suborbitally to 70 miles and Mach 15. And, the Pathfinder can deliver payloads from its bay that carry an upper stage at the top of the ballistic trajectory, which gives it another advantage.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinemarten
    What's English?

    Just kidding. I assume you mean Standard/Imperial.

    I remember the disaster vaguely, but I didn't have access to details at the time. Wasn't it the distance to Mars measurement or something?
    Sorry for the edit, I hit submit instead of preview.
    There's this site: http://www.clive.canoe.ca/CNEWSHeyMa...10_metric.html

    The units don't quite match up, but it conveys the gist of the problem. You could do a google of Mars Polar Lander conversion and see if any are more informative.

    One of the problems is that the units were in the right ballpark, so it wasn't obvoius from inspection that something was wrong. I remember someone saying that the units in the table weren't specified, so it wasn't obvious when looking at the table that something was amiss. Nobody did a "that's funny" when the number and magnitude of the orbit correction burns turned out more than expected.

  23. #23
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    I remember something similar when I was using MS Paintbrush to convert blueprints because the company couldn't afford Autocad. When I converted the attributes from standard to metric the conversion factor was incorrect. I was using Win95 at the time and emailed MS development team. They emailed back saying they no longer support out-dated platforms. I have Win98SE now and I forgot to check to see if they corrected it, and therefore owe me a royalty cheque for my assistance.
    The moral of the story is Bill Gates may not even have the software to get to Mars.

  24. #24
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    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  25. #25
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    They still haven't got an engine. Go da Vinci!

  26. #26
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    Da Vinci hasn't even flown yet. As for its cockamamey balloon scheme....

    Don't get me wrong, I like the concept - I just think it's a little far-fetched. Not that it's not a contender, but a Da Vinci type design would not be efficient to use for much else other than suborbital flights.

  27. #27
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    It only has to make it to 100 km with 3 people on board....

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