Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wasting Time in the Desert

This weekend a bunch of amateur hobbyists are taking their dreams to Holloman Air Force Base trying to overcome 14 billion years of physics, give or take. The big draw at the X Prize Cup is the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge and only John Carmack’s Armadillo Aerospace team has managed to qualify to take a shot at the $2M prize. While it makes for good press, let's call it what it really is: a fun diversion .

There is a little challenge in building some tanks and a rocket motor in your garage. There is also some challenge is putting the electronics and flight control software together when you've missed out on 10 years or so of aerospace enginneering school. When you haven't a clue about optimum control, kalman filters, or any of the other tools of the trade it does seem to be some accomplishment to do what these hobbyists are doing.

If you think some major advance will change the course of history this weekend, then you are as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as the folks wasting time in the desert this weekend.

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