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Real-Life X-Wing Set to Fly Answered

No, really.

Andy Woerner and his crazy rocketeer friends have built a 21-foot long X-Wing model that can actually fly. Yes, this is a real X-Wing powered by four solid-fuel rocket engines complete with radio-controlled moving wings. It blasts off in California next week, and we talked with Andy about the project, and how they expect it will do.

The X-Wing model is huge. At 21 feet long and with a wingspan of over 19 feet it is, in fact, big enough to fly a kid in. However, knowing that it will be powered by solid-fuel rockets, they wouldn't put a kid, dog, monkey or Gizmodo editor inside, even if it uses three full parachutes to land.

After drawing the plans using CAD software, Andy's team and his friends at Polecat Aerospace (with the help of RMS Laser and Aerotech Consumer Aerospace) used laser cutting to make the pieces out of Baltic Birch wood. They also used solid aluminum for some parts, like the rods which are the pivot point for the wings.

full story with more pics

Discussions

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gmoon

10 years ago

They've added a second video. A little hard to tell (with tele lenses), but it appears one of the film crews isn't much more than 100 ft (maybe 150 ft) away from the launch... Given how close to the pad it crashed, none of those spectators were very safe...('course, if I had a chance to be there too, I would have. ;-) )

It looked just like a real American rocket launch...

(and the announcer said a naughty word!)

Awesome! But like one of the comments said 'I see this blowing up and being a huge hit on you tube.' That may happen as it's made of wood.

Well, it didn't =blow up= per se` but certainly didn't put up with the stress of forward thrust long either.

If the rockets explode a metal construction won't save it. Still, it'll be cool to see a flight or an explosion. Either way it'll be fun.

Totally awesome, to bad it failed, not enough fin root strength and too top heavy.

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gmoon

10 years ago

Wow. I've built enough stuff from laminates to know that wood can be incredibly strong. But seen enough rocketry on TV to know that if all four engines don't ignite simultaneously (and produce similar thrust), this will be flying mulch. Not only that, but there's nothing aerodynamically sound about this design--not even the original artist concept. I'm sure they will launch this vertically, as it's really a rocket, not a plane or glider.

It the wing profiles are right, it should fly - remember the X-15.

Hey, I sure hope it does. For supersonic flight I think the body profile at the wing section needs to be smaller, though (so volume of body & wing cross-section is similar to the volume cross-sections of the rest of the airframe.) And doesn't matter if it's only gliding in subsonically. But that's just something I saw on tv (I'm not an engineer, I just play one.) All this talk about 'X-wing'--isn't this really a 'rocket biplane'? ;-)

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ll.13

10 years ago

Someone's gonna be crying if something goes wrong... =(