Knit! Dive!

I knit. And I scuba dive. So... Yeah.

11 October 2005

Countdown to the X-Prize Cup - 9 Oct 05

Technically, this was the countdown to the X-Prize Cup, as there weren't any prizes or anything this year. It was very fun.

Saturday, we drove down to Los Lunas from Albuquerque. It was a nice drive. I got in a good bit of knitting, even finished a sock. We checked in to the Hilton. A nice hotel, free wireless. The AC could have been better, but that's only a minor gripe. For dinner, we tried eating in the hotel, but our options were a bar, or some fancy place, so we went across the street to Farleys. It was alright. The drinks were mediocre, and the food was decent.

For breakfast Sunday morning, we went to IHOP. Quite tasty. Good service, food prepared properly. Then to the show.
We took the airport exit, and at the top of the ramp was a sign directing us to get back on the Interstate. It would have been nice to have a similar sign on the interstate so we could have just kept going. We ended up parking at the fairgrounds, where we were shuttled to the Las Cruces Airport. We got there around 10:45. They opened the gates at 11:00, and things moved smoothly. We saved $2 each on our tickets by purchasing online.

Once inside the gates, we were greeted by the m&ms, who have a long history with the space program. That's Shane (husband) on the left.


There were also not to scale representations of Earth and Mars

We were also interviewed by a Japanese reporter from NBC Universal. That was interesting.

Almost all of the big names in space travel were there, with two notable exceptions: Blue Origin, founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com and Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites, although there was a mock up of SpaceShip One. There was also one notable inclusion - NASA. Apparently, they have changed their tune. Here's some photos:
Canadian Arrow:


GoldenPalace.com/The DaVinci Project:


t/Space:


Armadillo Aerospace:


RocketPlane:


Space Adventures:


ThunderStar:


And of course, the SpaceShip One mock up:


Apparently, the day was meant to get off the ground, so to speak, with a parachute stunt. Shortly after the planned appearance, the host announced that the team had landed at Wal-Mart, and there was a sale on laundry detergent. The next big event was a Stealth fighter fly-over:


Dr. Diamandis officially announced the creation of the Rocket Racing League. This will be similar to the pod racing scenes in Phantom Menace. It will be like NASCAR times 100. There was a demo of the prototype racer, the EZRocket. The main body is similar to the EZ design by Burt Rutan, with two 400 lb thrust rockets strapped to it. It was flown by an astronaut, who later passed out autographs. This was the first time the plane was flown twice in one day. Here's a photos of the plane:



Armadillo Aerospace tested their vehicle, a vertical take-off and landing rocket. The first test was a 25-ft hop, which went well, until the end, when it fell over. They intended to perform a second hop, to 100-ft, but discovered a leak, and so it was scrubbed.

The grand finale was provided by GoldenPalace.com/DaVinci Project. They were performing a static test, when the rocket blew up. The team lead said he wanted to provide us with some fireworks, at their own expense. And he wanted to give the fire crews something to do, after sitting there all day waiting on something to blow up. The standard "We meant to do that." Actually, the rocket was close to the end of it's life cycle. Thankfully, there were no injuries. Here's a photo:


There were a lot of people there, I read 20,000 somewhere.


So we rode the shuttle back to the fairgrounds. Here is my one and only real complaint. We arrived early and got to park in a paved lot, however, they didn't drop us off where they picked us up, so we had to find our car. That wouldn't have been so bad except for the dust storm. I thought I had seen dust storms, but I was wrong. It's hard to explain, but it wasn't fun. I had dirt in places I didn't know I had places.

So, to end...