A while back, John Carmack (of "Doom" and "Quake" fame, as well as the founder of Armadillo Aerospace) issued a challenge: launch a rocket to more than 100,000 feet, get a GPS reading from up there, and recover the launch vehicle, and $5,000 is yours. Some additional benefactors pushed the Carmack prize to roughly $10,000. And as you will see in this video, Derek Deville might just claim it.
Deville's rocket, called "Qu8k" (pronounced "quake"), launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada on September 30th. Ninety-two seconds later it hit its apogee, some 121,000 feet above the desert floor, before parachuting back to Earth. From there you can clearly see the darkness of space, the curvature of the Earth, and a hell of a lot of real estate below.
Alas, Deville was unable to get a GPS reading from the apogee, and thus did not fulfill all the requirements to win the Carmack prize outright. But by all accounts Qu8k did break the 100,000-feet mark, and the video clearly shows the team recovering the launch vehicle intact. As such, it seems the Carmack challenge won't go uncompleted for much longer.
The full-length video of the launch is below (and recommended), but if your patience runs thin there's a shortened version here.
This rocket, these videos are so superb! I had so much fun watching the video! It was exciting and fun to travel to space or at least 121,000. It was so cool to watch! I am so glad to take the effort to video record it in different perspectives.
This rocket and video is an absolute BLAST!!!!!
That rocket is awesome. Great job
This technology and this home brew rocket is wonderfully innovative and exiting. I think the video is fantastic. I hope a lot of other POPSCI readers watch the rocket video and make comments. This is FUN and EXCITING TO SEE! It is so COOL!
Three simple words: YOU GUYS ROCK! You are instantly the rock stars of everyone who has ever built a model rocket. You have lived out one of my wildest fantasies! YOU. GUYS. ROCK.
This was really fun to watch. Loved all the different perspectives.
Just a question cause I feel really really ignorant. What is the point of the competition? Like what does the GPS serve for?
Ding! Dong! Do not feel shy or do you believe only NASA to goes into space. Yes this is the point is serves!
Anytime you should feel a magical moment.
(Oh, I get it now!)
YEA! Human conscious has been uplifted, amen!
This is completely amazing. Just watching it makes me want to major in Aerospace Engineering. Simply spectacular results.
I could watch that for hours. Spectacular!
An Idea that just occured to me: Strap the rocket to a large Helium Weather Balloon and have it go up, then when the balloon reaches its peak, fire the rocket, stabilize it and reach ~200'000 Feet!! Too bad I don't have a rocket, or a Helium Ballon... :(
It was amazing to watch the video. This rocket was not done by a huge corporation, not a government organization, but enthusiastic geniuses. And they were kind enough to share this video with the entire world, so people can see what human ingenuity could, can and will do. Thank you guys, you are amazing.
Well done, BRAVO!
Weird brain effect on the decent video.. halfway through was getting the spins (naturally.. kinda hungover) but i left the video playing and flipped over to another tab.. the sound in the background made the spins continue, they stopped immediately after hitting the mute key on my keyboard.
... bonkers video, could watch the first part over and over. you know it's good when my 4yr old wants to watch it again and again.
It took that rocket hella long to get back to the surface than it did to get up there. Way to go team!
You have a stop watch? You were there? You timed it going up and then timed it going down?
Pltzzzzz! I think not.
Forget my questions. I am cranky. I sleep now.
It's all good. This is monumental for a private source. Bask in the greatness. I know a human would have trouble surviving 15+ Gs but it would definitely help to maximize productivity of light cargo delivery. I say they should start a shipping company for trans-orbital insertion and do it BIG!
That or start a weapons dealership. Either way, GO TEAM!
I bask in Jack and Coke strapped into a rocket! Oh yea! Gulp!
My guess for why they were not able to get a GPS reading from up there is because comercial GPS units are limited by altitude and speed so that somebody can't buy an off the shelf receiver and build a missile with it. According to Wikipedia: "All GPS receivers capable of functioning above 18 kilometres (11 mi) altitude and 515 metres per second (1,001 kn) are classified as munitions (weapons)" This rocket went both faster and higher than that so that would explain why they were unable to get a reading despite having 4 gps units.
If I understand you correctly, then the whole challenge was a cheat or a GPS technical oversight, because no one will be able to get a GPS reading? I am not suggesting the people who made this rocket cheated. I believe they achieve the goal and more by watching the video. But it would suggest those who created the contest never had a chance to verify GPS wise contest\challenge.
You are correct. My 13 year old son and I launch high altitude helium balloons. (facebook @projectasporto) Our highest altitude was about 93,000 feet. The GPS system was deployed by the US military and has safety features built in. Obviously with good intentions in this case, but the restrictions were put in place to prevent someone from using the GPS as a guidance system etc. Also, above a certain altitude, I beleive its 50,000 feet, triangulation ceases. So there is in fact no way to actually receive or send a GPS coordinate above 100,000 feet.
Does anyone actually know where to find dry ice?