So, out in Kansas, in the DEC Oil Refinery, a group of people, called simply the Disciples, have set up a community. From the outside, it seems like a utopia, one where man and mutant get along peacefully, and everyone is kind to each another. But the Disciples have plans that they keep top secret. The leader of the community, Jacob Goldman, plans to build a rocket ship, and take his followers from Kansas to an island in the middle of the Pacific. My question is, what materials would be needed?

-They only have a limited amount of fuel at the Refinery, so having a plane or ship go back and forth 900 miles again an again. No other deposits of fuel are known, so they can they can’t get more.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Rockets that don't explode upon launch or landing are very hard to build, even by experienced professionals. Do these folks plan to survive the landing? Are you sure they don't want to go an easier, safer method, like a seaplane, or a dirigible, or simply building a ship in, say, Davenport or Rock Island? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jul 6 '18 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733: They live in Kansas, so a ship would be impractical. And their are 30 of them, so a seaplane wouldn’t work $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jul 6 '18 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733: Also, DEC is the only place we’re they can find oil to fuel a plane, so that wouldn’t work. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jul 6 '18 at 5:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ They lack oil, but they will manufacture and safely store hundreds of tons of rocket fuel? Easier to walk to California and build a steamboat out of raw lumber and scrap iron. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jul 6 '18 at 5:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user535733: Do you think I should scrap this rocket ship idea, and replace it with a plane or something? This idea is obviously stupid $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jul 6 '18 at 5:28

Don't build a rocket ship. Build a good ol' fashioned airplane.

He doesn't need a rocket ship. While Elon Musk is saying BFR can be used for point-to-point travel on Earth, the resources needed to build a BFR are HUGE. Rockets are an extremely unforgiving technology, and the resources needed are significant. There are other problems too:

  • Navigation. A rocket ship doesn't have much time to steer. Landing on an island requires to pinpoint accuracy. Hard to do that at rocket speeds unless you have computer-controlled (more advanced technology - can't just stick a leftover iPhone in there) thrusters with GPS (oops, GPS is offline because of the apocalypse) navigation.

  • Fuel. You also need very high-quality fuel (kerosene will work, which is doable, but diesel won't) and lots of other goodies. Not easy for a small group, especially post-apocalypse.

  • One-way. Without a lot of infrastructure in place in Kansas and on the island, the rocket ship would only be good for one trip.

  • No practical way to test before the big day.

Realistically, Jacob needs to build an airplane, not a rocket ship.

  • Materials can be salvaged - if it isn't the most efficient airplane, that's OK, as long as it can fly. Make it an internal combustion engine driven propeller plane instead of a jet and you get more flexibility on fuel and can salvage engines from cars.

  • Navigation is no big deal. Maps, landmarks, dead reckoning. Even in the wide-open Pacific you can find your island without GPS, as long as you're flying at 300 MPH instead of 3,000 MPH.

  • You can fly the plane around Kansas to test and get the kinks out before making the big trip.

  • Multiple trips are possible. All you need to make the next trip is fuel. Well, bring along duct tape and a toolbox to take care of the inevitable small fixes. But multiple trips are plausible.

Building a plane bigger than the Wright flyer won't be easy, but with enough abandoned equipment from Kansas City - maybe even some actual (though rusting and old) airplanes, it can be done.

Edit based on comments to Question

  • Capacity needed is 30 people. A DC-3 can handle that. I would actually try for something a little bigger in order to be able to add extra fuel tanks. The tricky part will be engines. The DC-3 has 1,200 HP engines, which is a bit more than you can salvage from cars and small trucks lying around the refinery lot. But Jacob is resourceful, he'll figure out something.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Since we don't know anything about this island, like if there's a usable runway, a flying boat might be a wise design. Quite a few newer designs can handle 30 passengers with ease. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jul 6 '18 at 5:33
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733: It’s an in Polynesia. Also, do you think I should turn the spaceship idea into something else? $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Jul 6 '18 at 5:37
  • $\begingroup$ An airship would seem to be most tolerant of poor-quality manufacturing (you don't need to balance aerodynamic forces as well as an airplane) assuming they can find somewhere to source the lift gas. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Jul 6 '18 at 5:50
  • $\begingroup$ Building something the like a Hurricane shouldn't be too bad. There were bigger wood framed aircraft as well, but you can start small. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jul 6 '18 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ Re the 1200 HP engines, you could simply bolt together a number of existing engines. Though it's a bit more complicated than simply bolting them together, it's doable. It was actually done to produce a WWII tank engine: oldmachinepress.com/2012/10/05/… Or you can simply use more engines, like this: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_X That would seem to be much easier to construct, and should be able to make the journey. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jul 6 '18 at 18:21

No one can build a "homemade" rocket that will perform successfully on the first try. However, there is one possible way.

This community may have come across a facility that contains nearly-futuristic 3D printers in good order. Those printers also happen to have sufficient number of "cartridges". Also, they found blueprints for Blue Origin's latest suborbital spacecraft, the one that can take a few dozen space tourists at once.

From that point, they would have to load blueprints into the printers and build the spacecraft like one builds a bookshelf from IKEA. If they follow instructions meticulously, it should fly.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.