Even though SpaceX gets a great deal of attention with their Falcon 1 launches, one of my favorite rocketry businesses is John Carmack’s Armadillo Aerospace. There is a great article currently at Forbes on John and Armadillo. John has come pretty close to winning the Lunar lander challenge twice (2006,2007). His approach has been different from other contenders in the commercial space race. One big difference is that he has spent only 3.5 million in his quest compared to the 100 million Elon Musk(SpaceX) or Jeff Bezos(Blue Origin) have spent. I really enjoy watching the controlled ascent and descent of his lander vehicles. I also see that Armadillo provides The Rocket Racing League with engines. According to RRL:
“Armadillo performed the very first flight under the new FAA/AST experimental permit regulatory regime, and we have made over a half dozen more permitted flights since then, all fully insured and observed by on-site AST personnel.”
Watch this great video showing some of Armadillo’s flights.
At the end of that video there are some interesting artist renderings that make me say “What the heck?” Is it a clear passenger sphere in which the rider is totally unattached and free to float about? What is this? Looks dangerous.