I am excited about being invited on the Rocket City Rednecks (RCRN) episode that will air this Thursday night at 9 pm EST on the National Geographic Channel. Travis Taylor called me back in the summer and asked me if I wanted to help them on a very special project related to moving a HUMVEE out of a dangerous situation by using a hybrid rocket engine. This sounded very interesting. If anyone knows much about me, they know that I love to push anything with a rocket engine/motor. The cool thing about doing ground vehicles is that you are not constrained by low safety margins and high performance criteria like is the case for vertical launch systems. The other cool thing that I find appealing is that man- or woman-driven rocket-powered vehicles allow people/friends to see how cool rockets can be up close and personal. This experience does not require them to go to a launch at the Cape in Florida and does not require that I get an FAA waiver.
I was inspired to build my first rocket bike by Glen May, who loved the idea of experiencing rocket-powered anything. He wanted to see barnstorming as a way to get people excited again about space travel and rocketry at a very grass roots level. Glen’s passion would drive him to help Hal5 with our amateur space shot on SL2. That was a balloon launched rocket. Glen gave much work vacation to be part of our team in Huntsville. He later would follow me to Mojave to do critical technician work on SpaceShipOne. He and I were roommates and had a blast while I served as Lead Propulsion Engineer. He knew what it was like for me to manage two propulsion companies for the fuel and injector for SS1. He likened it to me “herding cats”! That was a great analogy. We lost Glen during a cold flow nitrous test at Scaled in 2007. This was a sad passing. Glen was a great guy with a great passion for space.
I want to dedicate this “Hybrid Rocket Truck Build” to Glen May and all the guys from Orion who helped make it happen. There were those behind the scenes, too! Many volunteers. Nothing complex and dynamic can happen on a large scale without a great team! I want to thank the team! You know who you are. Thanks to Don Miller and the Miltec Team for providing the seed money to build this rocket motor back in 2006 when Orion was just getting started.
I hope you enjoy the show!