Home-built rocket climbs to 121,000 feet in 92 seconds
By Pawel Piejko
October 11, 2011
Launched from Black Rock Desert in Nevada on September 30 in an attempt to win John Carmack's 100kft Micro Prize, Derek Deville's home-built Qu8k rocket reached an altitude of 121,000 feet (36.8 km) after 92 seconds flight ... and captured some excellent video footage along the way.
Using a custom-built launch tower, Qu8k (pronounced as "quake" in homage to Carmack's id software classic video game) made a safe return in a parachute descent that took another 7.5 minutes. It was fully recovered only three miles from the launch site (the Prize requirements include recovery of the intact rocket within 24 hours of the launch).
Constructed from aluminum and measuring 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter and 167.5 inches (425 cm) in length, the Qu8k's rocket used APCP rocket propellent to give it a maximum velocity during the ascent of 3,200 ft/s (975.36 m/s).
Deville's team equipped the rocket with two timers, four GPS devices, an accelerometer, or cosmic ray detector. A couple of Go Pro Hero HD video cameras and one Flip HD camera provided detailed footage of the flight.
100kft Micro PrizeEstablished in 2000 by John Carmack, co-founder of id Software's (a studio famous due to such titles as Wolfenstein 3D, Quake, or Doom), Armadillo Aerospace is the company behind the US$5,000 100kft Micro Prize. The challenge requires a rocket to be sent to an altitude of 100,000 feet (30.4km) and, along with the requirement to recover the rocket within 24 hours, it is also necessary to present GPS serial log of the flight with at least one record above 100,000 feet.
Derek Deville reportedly fails on that aspect. Despite equipping the rocket with four GPS devices, a high altitude GPS fix was not caught. We do not know at this point whether the evidence will be sufficient enough for Armadillo Aerospace.
Take a look at the video below presenting the impressive footage acquired by Qu8k: