• Dave Salt

    It does seem rather small and, given the lack of background refraction and disturbance (e.g. dust) when it got close to the ground, I’m not sure that it was even rocket powered?

  • Paul Thomas

    Yes I agree, it looked jet powered to me.
    still it’s the control system that matters but even so it took a long time to get down. A rocket would probably not have that much time.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Looks like the Armadillo Aerospace level of landing. In fact come to think of it, that was not a rocket. It was a jet…Sure looks like that. If that’s a jet, it’s not even at the level of Armadillo Aerospace.

  • Dave Salt

    If I was being really skeptical, I’d wonder if it was powered at all (e.g. hung from a wire), though I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest some form of CGI.

  • Dave Salt

    Except that even Armadillo/Masten/SpaceX landings were never that smooth, to say nothing of the duration of that final ‘hover’.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Is that a good thing tho? In order to conserve fuel you need to perfect the hover slam used by Space X. I agree nice motion control, great for airshows.

  • Paul Thomas

    You mean like in Thunderbirds?

  • envy

    When you’re landing, smooth is not fast, and slow is not efficient.

    A test is a test, though.

  • duheagle

    I can recall several Armadillo landings that looked like the vehicle wasn’t even under power but being lowered on a string they were so smooth. The SpaceX Grasshopper and F9R test vehicles made a lot of very smooth landings too.

    Most of those landings were also a lot more hover-y than, say, SpaceX’s landings have been in regular operation so it’s hard to fault the Chinese for following suit. First, get it right, then make it fast.

  • duheagle

    Crawl before walk. Walk before run. Grasshopper wasn’t doing hoverslams right out of the box either.

  • duheagle

    It wasn’t.

  • duheagle

    It was jet-powered. This rig is for development of control software, not engines. The Chinese are further behind SpaceX at this point than even where SpaceX was when it started flying Grasshopper. We’ve gotten a bit jaded, I think, by the almost negligent ease and elegance with which SpaceX lands its boosters. But that didn’t happen overnight.

  • duheagle

    I’m no fan of the Chinese, and they did seem to go to a fairly decent amount of trouble to obscure just how small their rig was, but I think what we have here is real footage of a real landing. And it seems to have been on a road. Jet engine exhaust is much cooler than rocket exhaust so that explains the lack of a visible plume. The lack of any dust is likely due to that stretch of road having been meticulously swept in advance to prevent foreign object damage.

  • A_J_Cook

    But is it ahead of ULA?

  • Stu

    Well, they need to at least produce a few plausible tests, so it doesn’t suddenly look so suspicious when they can suddenly do hoverslam landings using stolen technology.

  • windbourne

    who said that they stole technology for this? And why would you think that?

  • dbooker

    Uh, didn’t anyone notice no shadow when it landed yet other items had shadows? Looks fake to me.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I did not say it was not a step forward. But I expected more. Armadillo attacked and solved more of the problem set than this.

  • duheagle

    Yes. But not by doing one hop-and-land test. This Chinese effort is about where Armadillo was 15 or more years ago. Comparing their initial effort to late-stage Armadillo is an apple-to-oranges exercise.

  • duheagle

    If the Chinese had actually managed to steal any relevant technology I think their initial test would have been more impressive.

  • duheagle

    He would have thought this because technology theft on an epic scale has been a mainstay of Chinese “catch-up-with-the-West” efforts for decades. Thus, it is not at all out of line to entertain that thought. The nature of this initial test, including its manifest inefficiency, tends to argue against the Chinese having been able to steal anything consequential anent software-controlled vertical landing from any Western source of such expertise. On the basis of this test, at least, the Chinese seem to be very much on their own and climbing their own way up the same ladder of capability previously scaled by Armadillo, Masten, SpaceX and others in the West, who also started from scratch.

  • duheagle

    Watching the video in full-screen mode, the video is kinda grainy but there does seem to be a faint shadow that appears on the road well to the left of the vehicle as it gets close to the ground, then lands.

    Based on the shadow cast by whatever that is in the relative foreground near the right edge of the road, the sun angle is very low – maybe 10 degrees or less above the horizon as the length of that shadow looks to be at least four times the height of the object casting it. The illumination contrast between the left and right sides of the vehicle is certainly quite pronounced.

    The thing in the right foreground has a fairly well-defined shadow because that thing is on the ground with no daylight showing under it. The vehicle, in contrast, is supported off the ground on small legs. The shadow of the vehicle body wouldn’t even start until at least four times the distance to the left that the main vehicle body is above the ground on its legs. The video is hopelessly too grainy to pick out any shadows cast by the skinny legs.

  • Stu

    I didn’t say they stole the technology, but I’m sure they are actively *attempting* to do so. Espionage is the mainstay of Chinese industry (and I think this is pretty well accepted to be the case).

  • Stu

    I don’t disagree.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    A valid point, can’t deny that.

  • johndinfidel

    Rocket or air breathing jet?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    It was my understanding that the greybeardd we could see on the vid casts of the early landing days were old DC-X’ers. I wonder if SX paid for any consulting from the Armadillo crowd as they had their VTVL systems working quite well just as SX was starting things up.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Maybe the Chineses have hired the Hood to build it.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yep, it SOP since as a poor developing nation they feel its justified in order to catch up with the U.S.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/china-hacked-a-navy-contractor-and-secured-a-trove-of-highly-sensitive-data-on-submarine-warfare/2018/06/08/6cc396fa-68e6-11e8-bea7-c8eb28bc52b1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b02b6981e6f1

    China hacked a Navy contractor and secured a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare

    https://news.usni.org/2015/10/27/chinas-military-built-with-cloned-weapons

    China’s Military Built with Cloned Weapons

    By: US Naval Institute Staff

    October 27, 2015 4:45 AM • Updated: October 26, 2015 3:43 PM

  • Dave Salt

    A key element to SpaceX’s landing success is explained in the article that starts on p.15 of this journal…
    https://www.nae.edu/File.aspx?id=164381
    …and, in a more technical form, here…
    http://www.larsblackmore.com/iee_tcst13.pdf

    Maybe others have picked up on this work?

  • duheagle

    No idea, but I’m inclined to doubt it. Carmack put essentially everything Armadillo thought, did or thought of doing on-line in text, pictures and videos back when he was the honcho there. I find it hard to imagine any contacts with the nascent SpaceX wouldn’t have figured prominently in such posts. I have no recollection of any such.

  • Vladislaw

    Did Boeing try it? Lockheed Martin? Heck even Russia and Europe? ..
    looks like we know who will be actual competitors to SpaceX and Blue Origin.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    I agree with duheagle, Stu, and Prof. Matula. Technology theft is standard operating procedure for them. Here’s another very recent example where they tried to get jet engine technology:

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/30/asia/china-us-intelligence-charged-us/index.html

  • Paul_Scutts

    It will be interesting, Vlad, to see how far the Chinese will take this experimentation. I guess it all depends upon the feedback that they are getting from their source(s) within SpaceX. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • windbourne

    yes. That is common with Chinese (and Russians). I have caught 2 Chinese spies and reported 1 to the FBI (who is now gone). Back in the 80s when I was doing chemical/biological warfare and trying to stay abreast of what the Soviets were doing ( esp at Vozrozhdeniya ), we were well aware of spies back then (and cared far more than what today’s ppl seem to).

    BUT, who said that the Chinese stole THIS technology? Nobody that I know of. I have no issue with pointing out spying/theft by china, but, im not certain that they did so in this case.

  • windbourne

    Oh,CHina is working hard at it. I have dealt with 2 Chinese spies back when I was working on US PATRIOT act. I am sure that they have stepped it up even further.