Space Access 10: John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace

John Carmack
CEO and Founder, Armadillo Aerospace

  • Showed a promotional video highlighting company’s progress
  • Played a second video in which the vehicle lost control at 4,000 feet and fell head-over-tail to the ground

Business Update:

  • Company is growing. Taken on two more full-time team members
  • Operating profit again this year – marginally profitable small aerospace company right now
  • Couple of customers paying them decent money – “We’re very distracted by these customers.” (laughter)
  • Armadillo Aerospace was operating at the margins of what they could sustain
  • Sold his software company last year – provided Armadillo with some more financial stability…
  • What we’re flying now is pretty close to what we need for reusable suborbital vehicles. A number of upgrades needed that they are working on.
  • Hoped to have a new business deal to announce for the conference…announcement due within the next month…
  • Will be conducting tests at Texas launch site, the Oklahoma Spaceport, and Spaceport America in New Mexico

Centennial Challenges, NASA and the Rest of It

  • Centennial Challenges – best money NASA has spent on new technology
  • Upset over decision to allow Masten Space Systems a third launch window  in Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. Masten edged out Armadillo to win first prize…Carmack described it as bunch of people walked into a smoke-filled room and came out to announce they had taken a half million dollars away from you…
  • Very excited about NASA’s commitment to purchase commercial suborbital research…$15 million for the next year, $75 million over five years….
  • May end up doing some payload work for NASA before the end of the year….
  • Being able to make dozens of flights will give them the experience needed before they put people on it….eventual goal is to send people into orbit….
  • Considers NASA to be a slow-motion train wreck….great relationship with people within NASA, FAA, etc. but it is horribly inefficient and not cost effective…
  • Every year, they have a regulatory crisis involving something they want to do….