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Big Obstacle for New Mexico Winning the X-Cup

Posted by: Senior Von Braun - Sun May 02, 2004 10:14 pm
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Big Obstacle for New Mexico Winning the X-Cup 
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Post Big Obstacle for New Mexico Winning the X-Cup   Posted on: Sun May 02, 2004 10:14 pm
Now, I'm all for New Mexico winning the rights to hold the X-Cup there. Right now I live in Arizona and it would only be a day's drive away to see it, plus it's away from all the beuracracy back east. However, there's one big problem they face that I haven't seen anyone seriously talk about, the state's lack of any suitable body of water for vehicle recovery.

New Mexico is in the middle of the desert. I've checked a few maps and it seems to me that the only few lakes big enough to support X-Prize vehicles are dammed up resiviors that supply water all around the state. You definately wouldn't want to fly these things in the water that everyone's going to be drinking out of. For example, Interorbital's (I don't see them as a particularly strong team, but let's say that they're competitors) Solaris X is supposed to take off on the surface of the water and burns nitric acid and kerosene. That's some nasty exhaust spewing straight into the lake. Additionally, let's say a team like Canadian Arrow ran into trouble with their rocket. 20 seconds into the flight a fuel valve ruptures and KABOOM! The crew aborts and they're fine, but several tons of alcohol are dumped into the resivior, what's that going to do to the local ecology?

Making a new lake solely for the purposes of the X-Cup doesn't make much sense either. Right now we're in the midst of a severe drought, and there's barely enough water to go around just for people and farms, let alone an artificial lake solely for the X-Cup's purposes. By contrast, Florida has huge expanses of coastline to use, no water recovery problem there. I know that New Mexico pledged $9 million to lure the X-Cup, but they're going to need some sort of water recovery zone to draw teams like Interorbital, Canadian Arrow, and Iliat.

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Post    Posted on: Sun May 02, 2004 11:12 pm
Interorbitals web site claims their rocket can launch from sea or land. The landings would be tricky but possibly something along the lines of an air bag system similar to that proposed on Kistlers vehicle could be used. Provided these three teams have flying vehicles by the time the X-Cup happens.


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Post    Posted on: Sun May 02, 2004 11:36 pm
Personally.. I would go for New Mexico, Florida seems to be kinda not that supportive to the xprize.

And no water.. well it's just a new extra challange for the teams... beeing able to start on land and get back to earth on land.. will be on the long run a better option I guess then from water (or sea)...

I gues a lot of people wanne go in space.. and when space is very active (when people start living over there for a long time.. and outer space industry starts running..)... then I guess it will be like airfields.. that are located on places where it's needed.. not only where you can build it the best.

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Post    Posted on: Fri May 07, 2004 11:58 pm
Sigurd wrote:
And no water.. well it's just a new extra challange for the teams... beeing able to start on land and get back to earth on land.. will be on the long run a better option I guess then from water (or sea)...


Well, that's probably true, but the point is that teams like Canadian Arrow will need extra time to develop new vehciles while Starchaser and Scaled don't need to do anything to their's. In one sense it just encourages the teams to build land-based, easily launched from anywhere ships, but in another all it's going to get us is the water-based teams crying foul and grumbling through the whole X-Cup. We'll just have to wait and see what the X-Prize foundation ends up doing.

Oops, I mean the Ansari X-Prize foundation, presented by Champ Car. :)

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Post    Posted on: Sat May 08, 2004 7:04 pm
Senior Von Braun wrote:
Oops, I mean the Ansari X-Prize foundation, presented by Champ Car. :)


Yeah, the name is getting to be a bit of a mouthful, isn't it?

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Post    Posted on: Sat May 08, 2004 11:47 pm
In the UK there was an idea when there where severe draughts... to build a pipeline from one side to the other of the UK..
Building a large water pipeline.. for bringing the sea water to new mexico is maybe an expensive.. but a real possibility 8) "The X PipeLine Prize"


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Post    Posted on: Sun May 09, 2004 3:34 pm
i hope that was a joke. in the future maybe that would be a good idea (future == 100+ years) if water really became a precious resource, which i doubt very much, but the teams should have the ability to land on land if they want to launch rapidly, so new mexico == good for that.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 11, 2004 3:06 am
How about this for thought?
I see the X-Cup as having to be split up into two major divisions:
1) Vertically launched type vehicles
and
2) Horizontally launched type vehicles

The reasoning behind my opinion are:
1) Vertically launched suborbital vehicles are more at the whim of the Earth's rotation and wind drift in relation to where they are going to land.
The vertical drift of a rocket-style vehicle is clearly visible by viewing the footage from the nose mounted camera on one of the last shuttle launches. (I can find and post the link if anyone is interested).
For this reason -drift- a launch near a large body of water would be advisable as the drift coupled with the fact that rocket-style vehicles typically utilize a parachute re-entry system, thereby putting the vehicle's touchdown even more at the whim of drift and wind currents. This is probably a major factor why FL was chosen as the site of the first rocket-style NASA launches (Mercury).
2) Horizontally launched vehicles are by nature less prone to the whim of wind drift due to the nature of their basic design scheme - based on a fuselage and airfoil (wings) design. These vehicles can navigate through the air as an airplane can and can therefore also steer and land as an airplane can.
Is it inconceivable that the X-Cup be divided into these two major classes, vertically launched vehicles and horizontally launched vehicles, with the former being launched from FL and the later launched from NM? It would be nice for the whole "games" to be held at the same time and in the same venue but yes, there are issues as stated in this thread.
I did not address the rather exotic launch methods because I have not studied them in-depth enough to comment.

Just another possible alternative solution.


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Post How about this for thought?   Posted on: Tue May 11, 2004 3:18 am
In text line 16 of my previous post I meant to type the word "concievable", not "inconcievable". Sorry for the typo.


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Post    Posted on: Wed May 12, 2004 1:03 am
ArcheAngel wrote:
<snip>


Lexicon:
HTHL == Horizontal Take-off/Horizontal Landing (Rocketplane's design)
VTHL == Vertical Take-off/Horizontal Landing (like the Shuttle)
VTVL == Vertical Take-off/Vertical Landing (Armadillo's design)

HTHL RLVs are pretty unlikely, unless you get into hypersonics, which are pretty damned expensive -- there's too much fuel required otherwise. VTHLs are the designs preferred by design engineers, because despite the slightly higher costs, they're the overall best design. VTVL is a pain to implement, because you have to try and get the parachute/parafoil landing down too perfectly, and you can only use a few landing sites. VTHLs, on the other hand, can use any airstrip that's big enough.

I realize that likely made very little sense, but that's okay.

Anyways, why have the competition in two places? Cape Canaveral's got more than enough airstrip for horizontal take-offs and landings, and enough pads to accomodate all the vertical take-offs we could ever hope to have compete. We also have flat ground throughout the state that can be quickly and easily converted to appropriate competition sites if the Cape proves inappropriate.

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Post Anyways, why have the competition in two places?   Posted on: Wed May 12, 2004 1:31 pm
I like to offer a compromise while simultaneously playing devil's advocate whenever I can...keeps things mixed up and interesting.
Not to be dismissive of your question, but after yesterday's news on NM winning the bid, I don't think it's really important to debate any further.
Thanks for the info on HTHL/VTHL/VTVL.


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