Located in Mesquite, Texas, Armadillo Aerospace is a company
dedicated to creating space vehicles. This fairly new company
was created in 2000 and became incorporated in 2001. The original
goal of Armadillo Aerospace was to build a suborbital spacecraft
intended for space tourism. This spacecraft would reach space
but not enter a stable orbit.
Armadillo Aerospace places much value upon quickly building
their vehicles and testing them. Armadillo Aerospace has created
many different models using various propellants.
Each of their vehicles each contains some common components.
Armadillo Aerospace uses new computer technologies and electronics
to make it easier to control the vehicle and to lower production
costs. A common component also used is the use of liquid propellants
and VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) to assist in shorter
Armadillo Aerospace also competed for the Ansari X-Prize.
This competition was held in 2004 and had a prize of $10 million
USD for the winner. The prize would be awarded to the first
non-government organization to send a space vehicle to low
earth orbit. This had to be done two times in two weeks. The
vehicle that Armadillo Aerospace entered was different from
the others in that they created a vehicle, which was aerodynamically
inconsistent and the control was largely based on feedback
received from fibre optic gyroscopes. These gyroscopes use
the interference of light to detect mechanical rotation. This
was an unusual site to see in the competition as the other
vehicles had a type of stabilizing fin.
Armadillo Aerospace also proved their desire for simplicity
by mixing hydrogen peroxide and methanol for the vehicle entered
for the X-Prize. This reliable engine needs only one tank
and includes easier plumbing along with less complicated hardware.
However, since then Armadillo Aerospace has chosen to change
to liquid oxygen. This is because peroxide catalysts and high
concentration peroxide is difficult to obtain for some companies.
Armadillo Aerospace also competed for the 2006 Wirefly X-Prize
Cup. This competition encouraged innovation in the private
sector. The Wirefly Cup offered up to $2.5 million in prizes
for different competitions related to the general theme, and
are awarded to select teams. Armadillo Aerospace stood as
a lone competitor in the Lunar Lander prize challenge. Two
vehicles were entered, which were very similar in design and
build, to the competition.
Both vehicles spent almost five minutes air-borne before
failing to land and they both eventually crashed on the last
attempt. For this reason, neither vehicle won the award. The
vehicles had repeated landing failures, due to a breakdown
of the undercarriages, which contributed to not landing fully
on the pad due to misguidance. Even still, the flights of
these vehicles were a big attraction during the competition.
Armadillo Aerospace is run and largely funded by John Carmack,
a creator of video games such as the Doom and Quake series.
The company's employees work on a volunteer basis twice a
week and hold other full-time jobs. The company has announced
itself as self-funded and does not receive funding from any