Community > Forum > Wirefly X Prize Cup > Recent progress by the frontrunners

Recent progress by the frontrunners

Posted by: The Legionnaire - Sat Dec 06, 2003 8:30 pm
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Recent progress by the frontrunners 

Is Burt Rutan's team a shoo-in at this point?
Yes, he's far ahead of everyone else 60%  60%  [ 6 ]
Maybe, but other teams are catching up 40%  40%  [ 4 ]
No, he's been having a few problems 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 10

Recent progress by the frontrunners 
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Space Walker
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Post Recent progress by the frontrunners   Posted on: Sat Dec 06, 2003 8:30 pm
There's been a lot of discussion lately about the need for frequent updates of the X Prize site. The following content should be on the website in a few weeks anyway, but I'm posting it here first. It's simply a summary of the activities of the leaders in the past few months.

-Scaled Composites has been busy conducting flight tests high over Mojave, including two unpowered drop-and-glide tests of SpaceShipOne in November alone. In addition, on November 18, the “flight motor qualification run” of the rocket engine was completely successful, according to the Scaled website.

-Armadillo Aerospace’s capsule was dropped from a helicopter in July, successfully testing the parachutes and crushable-nose-cone landing system. The team purchased a Russian spacesuit and prepared it for future use. Recent experiments with 50% peroxide propellant have led to the development of safe and simple engines. As of November, low-altitude flight tests of the full-scale vehicle are planned soon.

-The Canadian Arrow team successfully test fired its complete first stage engine in Nov 2003. According to team leader Geoff Sheerin, “This has taken us a bold leap closer to our flights that will capture the X PRIZE. It wasn’t just a test of our engine, but of our test stand, support equipment, team capabilities and many other things that will be necessary to support full launch capabilities.” According to a Canadian Arrow press release, “Next steps for the team will include continued testing of the engine to prepare it for actual flight onboard the first Canadian Arrow spacecraft that is scheduled for launch next year.”

-Starchaser Industries has been busy conducting tests over the last several months. In July, it conducted two sucessful drop tests of its one-man Nova II capsule. On October 15, Starchaser succesfully fired the powerful Churchill Mk II LOX-kerosene engine for 53 seconds.Based on the success of the Churchill Mk II rocket firings, Starchaser was able to redesign its X-Prize entry to be smaller and simpler. The new rocket, whose detailed design is “nearing completion” as of December 5, will be powered by two Churchill Mk III engines, which are based on the Mk II design. The first components to be built will include the launch escape tower and the engines themselves.

Da Vinci has been pretty quiet lately, although it is a frontrunner.

HARC (the new team) could be a leader, but it's too early to tell.

So, what do you all think? Who's in the lead? Who has the safest design? Who will have the lowest flight costs?


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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 07, 2003 12:11 am
I always thought that Scaled Composites was leading the race, but now with HARC... progress of Starchaser, etc etc I really see the possibilities that scaled can get a few little problems and ending in second or 3rd position...

For safest design, I think I have to give Scaled Composites my vote for it.
Atleast if they have a good pilot flying with it ;)

Lowest flight costs... I reall don't know...

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Post    Posted on: Mon Dec 08, 2003 12:12 am
I used to think that daVinci would make the first attempt; though their Balloon approach is too subject to weather conditions. They've gone very quiet, so it's doubtful now. Starchaser recently announced a new Xprize vehicle design...so how long has this been in the works? If not long, then they may be delayed as they work-out this new craft. Looks like Scaled has it unless they stumble. Looks like 5 teams have a shot at attempting in 2004, though only Scaled appears ready for early 2004.


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Post hmmm   Posted on: Sun Dec 14, 2003 7:43 pm
Irving wrote:
I used to think that daVinci would make the first attempt; though their Balloon approach is too subject to weather conditions. They've gone very quiet, so it's doubtful now.


Two days ago, I would have agreed. But check out this press release:The da Vinci Special Media Update. Apparently Da Vinci will be conducting a media briefing on their progress on Dec 16. Stay tuned.[/url]


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Post    Posted on: Mon Dec 15, 2003 1:57 am
Yes, interesting to see. How possible is it that once Scaled wins the prize, interest and therefore funding will wane for the other teams? The 16th could be daVinci's attempt to secure additional funding before all the interest begins chasing Rutan exclusively?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 16, 2003 5:01 am
Irving wrote:
Yes, interesting to see. How possible is it that once Scaled wins the prize, interest and therefore funding will wane for the other teams? The 16th could be daVinci's attempt to secure additional funding before all the interest begins chasing Rutan exclusively?


Well, first I'll point out that you seem certain that Scaled will win. A few days ago I'd have said that Rutan's chances of succeding were at least 90%, but now I'm not so convinced. Canadian Arrow and Starchaser have both run very succesful engine tests, something Scaled has yet to do. However, Scaled Composites does have a working flight model and has completed construction of their vehicle, something no other team has done yet. At the very least, I'd say that the playing field has been leveled significantly, if not completely.

I really don't see the worry that if Rutan wins public interest in space flight will decrease. The most likely scinerio I see is that Space Adventures, and perhaps a few other start-up companies, will buy a few Teir One systems and start selling tickets. As for the other teams? Both Starchaser and Canadian Arrow show real commitment to providing cheap, affordible space access, and the compitition just might spur them to make their systems better than each other, or cheaper perhaps. Once you get four different spacelines competing against each other, they'll start vying to allow the cheapest tickets. Imagine, in only a few years the price could be down to only $50,000! I don't care who your loyalties are to, I think everyone here would support a move like that.

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Post Scaled has tested engines   Posted on: Tue Dec 16, 2003 3:02 pm
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Canadian Arrow and Starchaser have both run very succesful engine tests, something Scaled has yet to do.


Scaled certainly has done successful engine tests, they just haven't (or we don't know that they have) flown spaceshipone under engine power. They've even done flight tests of the various engine systems. I'd still give scaled at least a 90% chance of winning (although Armadillo would be my favorite).

Lepton


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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 16, 2003 6:03 pm
No one else besides Scaled has a working X Prize craft. Others just have working engines (somewhat) and vehicle mock ups or small scale prototypes. Unless Scaled manages to somehow plant SS1 into the desert at a high rate of speed, I think they've got the thing in the bag. But hopefully, that won't discourage the other teams from trying.


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Post Update   Posted on: Tue Dec 16, 2003 10:48 pm
If you want a detailed look at how the other teams match up to Scaled, check out the massive X-Prize team update, just published at http://www.xprize.org/papers/XPupdate_1203.pdf.

It's pretty clear that although Scaled will probably win, other teams will fly in 2004 also.


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