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Armadillo Aerospace

From Academic Kids

Armadillo Aerospace is an aerospace startup company based in Mesquite, Texas. Its initial goal is to build a manned suborbital Ansari X-Prize-class spacecraft, but it has stated long-term ambitions of orbital spaceflight. The company was founded in the year 2000, but was incorporated on January 1, 2001.


Contents

Overview

Armadillo is led (and largely funded) by John Carmack, a developer of computer games including Doom and Quake. All of its employees (including Carmack) have other, full-time jobs and contribute their efforts twice weekly to Armadillo on a voluntary basis. Armadillo has a relatively small budget and is not supported by aerospace companies or agencies like NASA, ESA, or Boeing. Armadillo Aerospace publicly has declared itself fully self-funded.[1] (http://www.armadilloaerospace.com/n.x/Armadillo/Home/Business/Investment) As of July, 2004, Carmack estimates he has spent around US$1.5 million of his id Software fortune on the project, a tiny sum compared with the budgets of established manned spaceflight programs.[2] (http://www.xprize.com/messageboard/viewtopic.php?p=5065#5065)


Research and development principles

The company places a strong emphasis on a rigorous fabrication and incremental testing regime for flight hardware and has extensive experience with a variety of propellants. It uses modern computer technologies and electronics to simplify rocket control, to reduce the costs of development, and to enable short launch-to-launch times.


X-Prize vehicle

The company was a competitor for the Ansari X-Prize. Armadillo's X-Prize vehicle was unorthodox among modern rockets in that instead of using stabilization fins, which complicate the design and increase drag, Armadillo used an aerodynamically unstable design, where the computer controlled jet vanes based on feedback from fiber optic gyroscopes. Armadillo also stated a preference for simplicity and reliability over performance, which was evident in its choice of hydrogen peroxide (50 % concentration in water) and methanol as a mixed monopropellant for the vehicle.

In June 2004, Armadillo successfully demonstrated a computer-controlled Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) flight of its prototype vehicle, becoming the third rocket in history to have done so, after the McDonnell Douglas DC-X and Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) Reusable Vehicle Test (RVT).

On August 8, 2004, a test flight of Armadillo's prototype vehicle ran out of fuel and crashed, destroying the vehicle. The costs of constructing a new vehicle were approximately US$40,000. In March 2005, during a hover test of the new vehicle, the engine failed, resulting in damage to the vehicle. Armadillo subsequently abandoned development of its X-Prize vehicle.


100 kilometers, 200 pound (91 kg) payload vehicle

Currently, Armadillo is testing a prototype for a suborbital vehicle capable of launching a payload of 200 pounds (91 kg) to a 100 km altitude. The engines for the vehicle will use methanol as the fuel and liquid oxygen as the oxidizer.


External links

fr:Armadillo Aerospace

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