London, Ontario, Canada —"Three, two, one...zeeero!"
What looks like a rocketship straight out of 1950s kids' television shows may fly off into space in mid-2003 to win the $10 million-dollar X Prize. The award is to foster technological development of a private launch system—with the first team putting three people into suborbital flight to an altitude of 100 km (62 miles), and repeating the feat within two weeks, getting the dough.
The Canadian Arrow design borrows from the German V-2 missile, having the same overall shape. And like the missile, the Arrow will be partially controlled by moveable graphite vanes that project into the rocket exhaust stream from the base of the stabilizing tail fins, deflecting the flow. Even the propellants are the same, alcohol and liquid oxygen.
Unlike the single-stage V-2, the 54-ft long Arrow is a two-stage vehicle, with the upper stage, containing a three-passenger compartment, powered by four solid-propellant rocket JATO motors. Canadian Arrow Team Leader Geoff Sheerin tells Design News , "The most important updates to the V-2 design are removing the turbopump system and using a gas-pressure feed system for the propellants instead. Having fewer parts, this simplifies the mechanical design, but requires heavier tanks [to contain the pressure], lowering overall performance. This penalty is not a problem since the original V-2 could fly twice as high as required for the prize."