While we’re still working on getting into engine testing and designing our first demo vehicle, Armadillo did some hover tests of their biprop VTVL vehicle over the weekend (Warning: very big file ~13MB, they also have a shorter 3MB file of the last of their four tests). They’ve still got quite a bit to go before they can show off their vehicle at the X-Prize Cup next month, but it looks like they may make it on time.
I’ve really enjoyed following the Armadillo team’s progress over the past few years. John Carmack has a nice group put together, and they’ve moved pretty far up the learning curve. John’s also a genuinely nice guy. He provided me with some free catalyst materials back when we were trying out GOX/GH2 catalytic ignition, and has always been willing to freely discuss rocket hardware related questions. That’s one of the things I like about the industry–with very few exceptions, the big players are genuinely nice human beings in addition to being good rocket engineers and businesspeople.
At MSS, we’re still working our way up the learning curve ourselves, and we’re taking some different technical approaches on engine development and testing from what Armadillo is doing, but it’s always cool to see other groups doing well. It makes it all that much easier to convince others that you really don’t need to be NASA or the government to do sophisticated rocket flight projects.
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