Space Adventures, Ltd., the only company currently providing human space mission opportunities to the world marketplace, along with their partner Armadillo Aerospace, LLC, released a Request for Information (RFI) solicitation today in an effort to gather information on the industry’s capabilities in designing and fabricating a spacesuit for suborbital spaceflight. Last year, Space Adventures entered into an exclusive marketing agreement with Armadillo Aerospace, a leading manufacturer of reusable rocket power vehicles, and together the companies are developing a commercial passenger suborbital space program.
“A key part of the development program is the selection of a spacesuit design for integration with the ongoing vehicle cabin mock-up and test program to ensure maximum safety, mobility and comfort for our clients,” said Tom Shelley, president of Space Adventures. “Space Adventures is playing an active role in the solicitation and selection of a suit design because of the impact that the space suits will have on the experience for our customers.” (more…)
Armadillo Aerospace has issued a statement clarifying remarks made by John Carmack last week:
A recent comment made by Armadillo Aerospace’s President and CTO, John Carmack, at Quakecon 2011 has been misconstrued and we need to correct a widespread misconception. John indicated that he was not “… accepting any more contract work, because he doesn’t want to get trapped as a small company that does government work.”
John’s fear, and justifiably so, is that our small team becomes distracted from the primary goal of developing space capable vehicles initially for scientific payloads but also as a foundation for subsequent manned space capable vehicles for both the scientific and “space tourism” markets. As many are aware, Armadillo has a very small team by comparison with others in this industry and the government work undertaken to-date has been somewhat of a “time sponge” that we can ill afford.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven companies to integrate and fly technology payloads on commercial suborbital reusable platforms that carry payloads near the boundary of space. The selected companies are:
— Armadillo Aerospace, Heath, Texas — Near Space Corp., Tillamook, Ore. — Masten Space Systems, Mojave, Calif. — Up Aerospace Inc., Highlands Ranch, Colo. — Virgin Galactic, Mojave, Calif. — Whittinghill Aerospace LLC, Camarillo, Calif. — XCOR, Mojave, Calif.
As part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, each successful vendor will receive an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract. These two-year contracts, worth a combined total of $10 million, will allow NASA to draw from a pool of commercial space companies to deliver payload integration and flight services. The flights will carry a variety of payloads to help meet the agency’s research and technology needs.
The always candid video game guru/rocketeer John Carmack had little good to say about the nation’s space agency during a 2 1/2 keynote address at QuakeCon 2011 last week:
Carmack also had some choice words for NASA, saying the entity was no longer “a good value,” and that the recently-closed Space Shuttle program was an experiment that lasted two decades longer than it should have. As for his own Armadillo Aerospace, which actually had an operating profit this years, John revealed that AA would no longer seek government contracts and focus on its own internal goals and experiments.
Armadillo Aerospace’s John Carmack has launched a competition for launching a small rocket above 100,000 feet. The description of the prize and the rules are show below. (Tip of the hat to Clark Lindsey of Hobby Space for finding it.)
The Carmack 100kft Micro Prize
In discussions on the mailing list aRocket of the relative difficulty of launching a rocket to 100,000 feet, John Carmack established a $5,000 prize for the first person or group to reach that goal.
This page logs the rules set up for that competition, and archives the text of the emails that established the prize and its rules. If someone announces intent to compete or wins the prize, that information will be recorded here as well.
Armadillo Aerospace has an online store on Cafe Press that is selling branded merchandise, including the mouse pad shown above. The store sells shirts, hats, mugs, buttons, stickers and more featuring an intrepid little armadillo wearing a helmet and goggles.
And for those wanting to spice up their love lives, there’s even this….
As far as the future of space travel, Garriott sees it coming from the private sector, notably John Carmack of id Software, with his company Armadillo Aerospace. â€œHis next stage is to be able to send people into space on a vertical takeoff vertical landing orbit,â€ said Garriott, who revealed that he is now helping fund Carmackâ€™s venture by funneling in money from investors who want to eventually take a space flight.
â€œI am a passionate believer that humanityâ€™s destiny is to live beyond the confines of the earth,â€ said Garriot. â€œAnd itâ€™s going to be us that do it! Itâ€™s not going to be big government groups, itâ€™s going to be people like our community.â€
NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist has published detailed information about suborbital vehicles that will be available beginning in 2011 for researchers to conduct microgravity experiments. The vehicles are being built by Armadillo Aerospace,Â Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic and XCOR.
Today we will look at platforms being offered by Armadillo Aerospace. The Texas company expects to make the first flight under the NASA funded Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program in January, begin commercial cargo operations in 2011, and start human spaceflight by the end of 2012.
Armadillo Aerospace: Testing a parachute deployment process by dropping a weight out of an airplane. As you can see there was excellent spatial coordination between the drop team and the recovery team. (Shout out to Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space.)
Space Adventures has already sent eight paying passengers into space using Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin has placed a $5 million down payment and is first in line for a future flight into orbit. Now, the company is advertising a trip around the moon for two paying passengers, something the company’s president, Tom Shelley, says could happen in three to four years. At $100 million a seat, a trip to the moon is a bit steep, but it’s less than one Silicon Valley tycoon spent trying to get to Sacramento.
[Editor’s Note: This last bit is a reference to former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, who spent in excess of $160 million — most of it her own money — in a failed bid to become California’s governor. Don’t feel too bad for her, though; it was just a bit over 10 percent of her net worth.]
Bill Gaubatz — President, SpaceAvailable Jess Sponable —Technical Advisor Air Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory Frederick Bachtel — Director of Strategic Planning & Initiatives, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne David Masten — President and CEO, Masten Space Systems Nino Polizzi —Vice President, Universal Space Network James Ball —Senior Manager Flight Engineering, The Boeing Company Yoshifumi Inatani —Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Neil Milburn —Vice President Program Management, Armadillo Aerospace