Next time you find yourself struggling to get up a hill on your bike, remember this rocket bike. It's a rocket and a bike. Genius.
For rocket designer Tim Pickens, a rocket on two wheels is the next best thing to a spaceship. â€œAt heart we're a bunch of guys wanting to go to space, and we can't afford it,â€ says Pickens of himself and his rocket-scientist brethren, most of whom never get to ride their own creations. â€œBasically it's my own subscale space program.â€
Pickens, president of rocket-design firm Orion Propulsion, created his first rocket bike with fellow speed enthusiast Glenn May by bolting a 35-pound-thrust rocket engine to Pickens's bikeâ€”enough power for a gentle push down the road. That project didn't kill anyone, so Pickens got himself another bike and stepped it up, attaching a 200-pound-thrust engine capable of blasting him from 0 to 60 miles an hour in five secondsâ€”fast enough to beat a Porsche in a drag race. In fact, the rocket bike employs the same hybrid rocket technology as the suborbital spaceplane SpaceShipOne, whose propulsion system Pickens helped design.