Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Armadillo Aerospace Stick Two Landings and Take Home $1 Million

The level two lunar lander X-Prize has been claimed. Armadillo Aerospace out of Rockwall, TX successfully flew there rocket Scorpious Super Mod between two pads then back again. With a half an hour to spare.

John Carmack is a founding member and Technical Director of id Software, the company noted for the DOOM and Quake computer games. Through coworkers and web sites devoted to technology and such, he found out about the CATS Prize that ran from November of 1997 to November 8, 2000. The CATS Prize was meant to foster Cheap Access To Space, and offered $250,000 to the first private team who could launch a 2 kilogram payload to 200 kilometers. John felt fostering private aerospace was a worthy goal, so he interviewed several teams to see about investing in their efforts. The CATS prize came and went without a winner, but through his indirect involvement, John realized that private efforts to reach space were both something he was very interested in and ultimately something he wanted to try himself.

In 2000 John formed Armadillo Aerospace and contacted the Dallas Area Rocket Society to see if there were any members interested in joining him in this new endeavor, developing exotic rocketry beyond the high-powered rockets DARS members normally flew. Through DARS, he met with Russ Blink, Phil Eaton, and Neil Milburn. Realizing they all had similar dreams and goals with regard to space access, they began meeting twice a week to start building computer-controlled, hydrogen peroxide-powered rockets (Armadillo would later abandon hydrogen peroxide propellant when supply issues became an unsolvable problem).

Here is the return flight.

Peter Diamandis after Armadillo successfully qualifies for Level 2 of NGLLC09

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