Ten Years of Armadillo Aerospace Memories, Plus a Chat With X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis

Categories: Cover Story

This week's paper version of Unfair Park includes the story of Armadillo Aerospace, the eight-man team of rocket builders that's grown into one of the country's leading NewSpace start-ups.

From their first days tinkering in a North Dallas loading dock a decade ago to their new home in a Caddo Mills airport hangar, they've meticulously documented their tests and launches with notes, photos and video posted on their Web site for budding rocketeers who'd join the budding cheap spaceflight industry. It's the same open source philosophy that Armadillo president John Carmack helped champion in the gaming world with his Doom and Quake franchises.

Of course, in with those diagrams, notes and launch videos, you'll find some impressive crashes. Perhaps most awesome of all is the launch video above from a 2007 competition in New Mexico, which ends in a monstrous fireball.

After the jump, you'll find more video from Armadillo flights and a Q&A with the X Prize Foundation's Peter Diamandis, who created the $10 million prize for the first private manned flight into space. And make sure to check out our slide show with more shots from a recent test launch.
Armadillo Aerospace
The Armadillo Aerospace team in 2002, with co-founder and de facto test pilot Russ Blink (chair) in the team's first manned rocket, powered by concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

In 2002, co-founder Russ Blink became the first Armadillo passenger, if only for a few seconds. Video courtesy Armadillo Aerospace.

Armadillo Aerospace
In their bid for the original Ansari X Prize, Armadillo outfitted a rocket with straps, handles and foam pads to cushion Blink's landing.

Onboard cameras catch a 2009 Armadillo flight to 2,959 feet. Video by Armadillo Aerospace.

On the next page, read our Q&A with Peter Diamandis, who created the original X Prize for private spaceflight in 1996 and is still one of the industry's biggest boosters.

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