Some rocketeers have a Homer Hickam bug, wanting to push the limits of how high their rockets will go. And, when there is $10,000 on the line to make it soar past 100,000 feet, the incentive is that much greater.
According to Popular Science, John Carmack, founder of Armadillo Aerospace, launched a challenge to rocketeers that he would give a $5,000 reward to anyone who put their rocket up 100,000 feet or higher, recorded the altitude through GPS and recovered the rocket when it reached the ground. An additional $5,000 was donated from several people, adding up to a $10,00 grand total.
Late last month, Derek Deville believes he surpassed that height with Qu8k. Watch for yourself as the far-from-amateur-style rocket explodes upward in a cloud of dust in Nevada's Black Rock Desert:
Unfortunately for this launch, the GPS system was unable to take a reading from its highest altitude, although the team did recover the rocket three miles from the site. Popular Science reports it believes Carmack's challenge will be fulfilled soon. Since August, four groups have taken the challenge.
Qu8k is 167.5 inches long and weighs 320 pounds with a thrust of 4,000 pounds for eight seconds. Deville's website reports a 121,000 maximum height on the rocket. For some perspective on the 100,000 foot goal, a model rocket sold to the 18 and older crowd called Executioner by Estes Rockets only goes up to 600 feet.