Video: Armadillo “Super Mod” Test Flight

Armadillo Aerospace conducted a “Super Mod” tethered flight on Saturday in Texas. The perturbations were part of the test, according to the description posted with this YouTube video:

Includes induced perturbations to test recovery from aerodynamic impulses, and the telescopic legs extending at the end. We were ready to free-flight after this test, but a two-hour FAA hold would have put us too late in the day.

CRuSR Official: NASA Program Will Be Flexible, Forward Thinking

NASA Enlists Caddo Mills-Based Armadillo Aerospace For A Boost to Suborbital Space
Dallas Observer

Armadillo president John Carmack says the company has turned a profit in the last few years thanks to its contracts with NASA and with its pals at the Rocket Racing League. Most mentions of NASA among the Armadillo team, though, are laced with the hopeless sort of sighs you might hear from an Apple Store Genius on his smoke break. While they’re glad to take NASA’s money for any steps along the way to their space tourism future, they’re wary of NASA engineers whose ultimate responsibilities are to agency politics, not rockets….

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NASA Awards $475,000 to Armadillo and Masten for Suborbital Flights

Masten Space Systems' Xombie rocket.

NASA PRESS RELEASE

NASA’s Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research Program (CRuSR) has awarded a total of approximately $475,000 to Armadillo Aerospace of Rockwall, Texas and Masten Space Systems of Mojave, Calif. The awards will allow the two companies to perform test flights of their experimental vehicles near the edge of space.

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Armadillo’s Carmack Snipes at Rivals, Threatens to Steal Their Engineers

Fresh off a cash infusion from new partner Space Adventures, Armadillo Aerospace CEO John Carmack spent some time this weekend sniping at rivals during the NSS International Space Development Conference in Chicago. Jeff Foust reports in The Space Review:

Carmack generated a little bit of controversy when he compared Armadillo’s efforts with those by competing suborbital developers. Virgin Galactic, he suggested, would not be able to fly as cheaply as Armadillo; Virgin currently charges $200,000 for a ticket while Space Adventures is asking for about half that, $102,000. “I think they have explicitly not chosen the most cost effective solution on this,” Carmack said. “I don’t think they will be able to compete on price, eventually, but some people will prefer their experience.”

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Video: Space Adventures Explains Space Tourism Partnership with Armadillo

A Space Adventures promo video on the company’s deal with Armadillo Aerospace.

The main thing I gleaned from this video is what a massive leap this is for Space Adventures. To date, it has flown passengers on a well-tested and extremely safe Russian orbital system that was built billions of government rubles. The company arranged the trip and took a cut of the revenue, but there was no tech development involved.

But now, Space Adventures has gotten into directly funding a small start-up with no human spaceflight experience and whose vehicles have never flown anywhere near space. The stakes are huge.

Armadillo and Space Adventures Outline Plans for Human Suborbital Flights

At ISDC today, Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson and Armadillo Aerospace’s John Carmack outlined the two companies’ collaboration on developing a suborbital vehicle to take humans and experiments into space. Jeff Foust and Donnie Lowther covered the talk via Twitter:

@DKLowther Space Adventures has paid Armadillo to start developing suborbital vehicle–ducks in a row–going to ramp things up.
@jefffoust Anderson is showing an animation now: features a cone-shaped vehicle atop four spherical propellant tanks and a central engine, VTVL.
@jefffoust Carmack: no one vehicle concept yet for suborbital, will test a variety of ideas. Armadillo focusing more on suborbital, hiring now.
@jefffoust Carmack: expect in a year to fly science payloads above 100K feet. A year after that, fly payloads above 100 km.
@jefffoust Anderson: won’t say when the first flight will be. Have customers already, including a half-dozen former astronauts.
@DKLowther In ramping things up, Armadillo expects to operate at a loss for the next 2 years.
@DKLowther Armadillo is looking to steal talented people from their competitors. Their vehicle will be remote controlled.
@jefffoust Carmack acknowledges that there’s competition, but doesn’t think Virgin can compete on price, wonders if others are fully funded.
@jefffoust Anderson chose to partner with Armadillo because they have best shot at lowering the cost of spaceflight.

Armadillo Aerospace Space Tourism Flights to Undercut Virgin Galactic By Half

Space Tourism Firm to Offer Suborbital Joy Rides at Lower Costs
Space.com

An American space tourism company that arranges multimillion-dollar treks to the International Space Station for the ultra-wealthy has struck a new deal to offer suborbital spaceflights for nearly half the going cost. The price is still steep though: $102,000 for the works.

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Space Adventures to Market Armadillo Suborbital Flights

SPACE ADVENTURES PRESS RELEASE

Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company currently providing human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, today announced that the company has entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with Armadillo Aerospace, LLC, a leading developer of reusable rocket powered vehicles. Space Adventures will exclusively market and sell commercial passenger experiences on Armadillo Aerospace’s future suborbital spaceflight vehicles that are currently in development.

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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

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