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Armadillo Aero One Step Closer To Space 213

RobertB-DC writes "The folks at Armadillo Aerospace have taken another step toward the X-Prize, dropping their re-entry vehicle from 2000 feet with no major problems noted. As usual, the Armadillo crew documented the event with text, pictures and video, and the story is also covered by (though without as many cool technical details). It's a bumpy ride, though -- instruments recorded some 10 G's on touchdown."
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Armadillo Aero One Step Closer To Space

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  • 10 Gs? (Score:5, Funny)

    by LeoDV ( 653216 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:18PM (#6397309) Journal
    Were their inertion dampening fields down?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Perhaps they dropped their server from 2000 feet also!
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:21PM (#6397323) Homepage Journal
    Now they're getting somewhere. John Carmack finally quit trying to win the prize by running at brick walls and firing a Stinger missile at the ground.
  • Break even? (Score:5, Funny)

    by grennis ( 344262 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:21PM (#6397331)
    instruments recorded some 10 G's on touchdown

    I'm not sure how much it costs to put this thing up. But, at 10 G's per touchdown, a bunch of more of these and they may get close to breaking even!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:22PM (#6397332)
    It could be a very smooth, fast drop.
  • by carl67lp ( 465321 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:23PM (#6397339) Journal
    Lately, we've been hearing more and more about the X Prize and the amateur (and not-so-amateur) aerospace engineers taking part.

    I suspect that the recent projects are to the government-sponsored space programs as open source software is to commercial software. True, the fundamental ideas /might/ be different, but the goals are the same: Take something that you can't have general access to, make it your own, and make it better. Then contribute that idea to the general public.

    In an era when people are becoming more and more concerned with manned space flight, I think projects and contests like this are the only way possible to get humanity into the heavens. Governments will always be under pressure to reduce spending; it will only be with enthusiasts that we make it to our proper place in space.

    (This isn't to say, of course, that a non-government-sponsored flight will be the first to Mars. This is simply to say that it will be the space enthusiasts who shed the light on the important facts about space and its wealth of knowledge.)
    • by RocketScientist ( 15198 ) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:41PM (#6397430)
      (extremely off-topic reply follows) Governments aren't under pressure to reduce spending. Governments are under presure to increase spending to things like invading other countries, giving money and food to people who don't work, figuring out new and different ways to screw citizens out of natural resources, "saving the environment", and studies to make sure that we're all aware that drinking beer is bad for us. So they have to simultaneously tax the crap out of anybody that makes money and cut a lot of things that are really worthwhile, like pure research and rocket science.

      Private enterprise really is the best way to get to space. I just hope when they colonize mars they remember exactly why a government that that could get to the moon can't even reliably send people into orbit and bring them back anymore, and set up their government with the additional checks and balances to keep from repeating those mistakes.

      I'm not bitter or anything though. Just because it's right after the end of a quarter and all.
      • Rockets got where they are today because some government decided it was neat to have a high-speed, hard to defend, way of killing people.

        The V2 was not done by private enterprise. Or Saturn V. Sorry to bust your ultra-liberal bubble.

        FWIW I agree with you that for space to be explored properly it must ultimately be done by private enterprise. Competition and diversity are key. The launch market should be liberalized and regulations for space launches should be relaxed.

        PS: Giving food for people who do

        • Sorry to bust your ultra-liberal bubble.

          Usually an anti-government, pro-business standpoint is not so much liberal as it is conservative. Just thought I'd clear that up.
          • Usually an anti-government, pro-business standpoint is not so much liberal as it is conservative

            No, that's liberal. Liberal as in free. Free from regulation. Market/capitalist liberal. As most countries/economies are quite heavily regulated (even the USA), an anti regualtion stand-point is (market/capitalist) liberal.

            As for conservativism, it depends on what you are conserving. In Soviet Russia, comunism was conservative. With a "middle way" government, getting attacked by opposition from both sides, wh

            • "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

              In the USA, a modern classic liberal would really follow the libertarian party, whereas the american liberal is more socialist authoritarian. Amusingly, the american conservative is more 'liberal' than the liberal, because they are the ones defining new processes of governing: promoting independance by reducing welfare, teacher and school accountability through testing, parent's school choice through vouchers, etc. One might even
    • It's a very good point. The government resources clearly outmatch any private company at this point, and probably will for some time. The big problem is, space stuff is risky and expensive, and no one can really see the return on capital that they need to take the risks. Boeing, Lockheed, always need some government contracts to pay for the development before it makes sense to build a new rocket.

      Of course, the engineers at NASA, Boeing, Lockheed, etc., are brilliant, and I'm sure they'd love to be d
      • I think you're right in general - the main problems I've seen with all the non-amateur 'little guys' (think rotorroc etc etc) is that they think too big and are underfunded - it sort of goes like this - Company X has a great idea on paper, gets a little money builds a prototype (if they don't go overbudget), something goes wrong, they fold. Rinse, repeat.

        The great thing about the 'amateurs' like Armadillo, JPA etc etc is that they take baby steps, and can afford to fail more than once, they're not betting

    • In an era when people are becoming more and more concerned with manned space flight, I think projects and contests like this are the only way possible to get humanity into the heavens. Governments will always be under pressure to reduce spending; it will only be with enthusiasts that we make it to our proper place in space.

      Government is not under any real pressure to reduce spending, they are under internal pressures to maintain control. Enthusiasts are possibly the only ones that will ever find a way for
  • What Carmack's choice in sneakers is..... 00 3-07-05_f.jpg

  • ROFLOL (Score:5, Funny)

    by matth ( 22742 ) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:23PM (#6397344) Homepage
    From the website:

    Too many users... blah blah blah

    Probable cause:

    Try again in a few seconds...
  • Google cache... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:25PM (#6397350)
    Is already down?

    Here's the google cache []

  • This [] links right to the video and the pics are here []
  • That's not bad at all. That's about what you get when you plop down in a chair.
  • by Snoe ( 114590 )
    Is the site slashdotted already or did they drop the vehicle on their web server?
  • 10 Gs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:33PM (#6397389)
    Crash rated seats for military helicopters are rated to take 50G down to 20G so I wouldn't think 10G would be a problem to deal with.
    • Re:10 Gs (Score:2, Interesting)

      by twostar ( 675002 )
      except that they've only fallen 2000ft, any guesses as to if the test vehicle made it to terminal velocity?
      • Re:10 Gs (Score:3, Interesting)

        by thebigmacd ( 545973 )
        No answer. The article at shows the craft PARACHUTING to the ground. I'm sure terminal velocity was attained quite quickly. Ewwww...10 Gs upon landing, WITH a parachute.
        • Yes, what many people don't realize is that when a hard drive falls off a desk and hits the ground it can be 50-100Gs worth of force for a fraction of a second. Now you know why they rate them for 200Gs.

          During a car crash, or something like that the G-forces are, momentarily, very high. But it doesn't last long enough to do any real damage in most cases.
      • Re:10 Gs (Score:3, Insightful)

        thats a drogue design issue, and comes back to weight questions, its easily done if weight is no object (as with most things in spacecraft design)

        but 100 yards of kevlar ribbon will bring terminal velocity down a long, long ways.

        and there are better designs still.
    • Re:10 Gs (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      I think the weak link here for most people here would be their own posteriors. I've personally only experienced maybe 3 Gs or so on various carnival rides, and with those I'm pretty much on my back. Nobody this side of a fighter pilot does anywhere near 10 Gs, especially in a near-sitting position. Heck, not even astronauts do that any more.
      • Re:10 Gs (Score:3, Informative)

        by Magila ( 138485 )
        A 10G jolt isn't as bad as it sounds, figher pilots only have to worry because they experiance high Gs for relativly long periods of time. People can take 20Gs or more over a fraction of a second without too much trouble assuming they're well restrained.
      • There are roller coasters where you experience up
        to 7G in a sitting position.
        • Such as?

          G forces that high cause blackouts, not to mention all sorts of physical injuries possible to (relatively) unrestrained and untrained riders (having your arms above your head isn't such a good idea when your arms suddenly weigh 140 pounds each). I'll have a hard time believing that a roller coaster intentionally does this without proof.
          • This triple loop [] roller coaster was
            present on a fair in Germany. It was quite a few years ago.

            The website talks about more than 5g's.
            On the fair, it was advertised as offering up to 7g's.
            I experienced no discomfort at the ride.
      • Fighter pilots in a G-suit can take 9G loads for a few seconds at a time (or maybe longer) without blacking out.

        If the 10g load occurred for only a fraction of a second, it's probably not much worse than going past that sign by the road that says "Dip" a little too fast.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:36PM (#6397407)
    It's a bumpy ride, though -- instruments recorded some 10 G's on touchdown.

    Good thing they only recorded some 10 G's. If those 10 G's had been present all over the craft, who knows what kind of complications could have arisen. I'm sure the design team will find a way to spread those 10 G's throughout the craft, reducing the overall readings to a manageable 2 or 3 G's.

  • The Problem is... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Frodo2002 ( 595920 )

    ..The problem with these people is that their movie clips are waaaay too large. They could reduce their movie file sizes by a factor of 5. I am sure that would alleviate some of the pressure on their server... Has noone pointed this out to them?

  • by Darth_Foo ( 608063 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:41PM (#6397434) Homepage
    John Carmack is a semi-regular poster to on usenet; he's posted several times today with details of his test plans and schedules. Even if the company site is slashdotted, go do a Google Groups search on him and the* groups and you'll get all his publically-available info, straight from the source.
    • Man, it's like his posts here about video cards.
      Our 2' diameter subscale vehicle is ready to test almost all the primary required systems -- servo valve differential throttling (as opposed to the solenoid based differential throttling used on our previous systems) [of course!], drogue cannon stabilization after burnout, and main canopy release at a particular altitude. We should also be able to fly that transonic. We would have flown it by now if our propellant issues were resolved.

      • Whatever. I'll just watch the videos and ooh and ahh. Everything he types makes me feel like a retard.

        You think that's an accident?

        I am not for dumbing anything down, but there is a certain class of well-educated well-spoken articulate people who go out of thier way to subjugate and dominate others via their written and spoken words. Sometimes it's subtle, sometime's its glaring.

        The worst offenders here are science people, followed closely by technical people. Mix those together, and you get Carmac
        • He is writing for a technical crowd.

          You might not think that differential throttling of his servo valve is important, but clearly he does.

          Also, extra elucidation on what the details is not always welcomed if you are a technical person trying to read fast. (Like, "get to the point!").

          Your editorial on his "of course" is from the perspective of somebody who is not in the inside. He may be kicking himself for doing something else previously, or he is just emphasising a point that he may have been making all
        • Uh, that sounds like perfectly reasonable, expressive use of technical terminology. He was even kind enough to define "transonic" for us. If you had a hard time deciphering it, I suggest taking a nap. I once worked on a solar car project with some people whose technical knowledge was far beyond my own, but I could always decipher their lingo if I was wide awake.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:48PM (#6397470)
    Stop playing with those rocket thingys and go finish your job!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @10:54PM (#6397496)
    It should actually be written "10 g's", with 'g' in lower case, as this refers to 10 times the normal acceleration, while "G" the capital letter refers to something entirely different.

  • by wbav ( 223901 )
    Anyone else think this is wrong? When touching down 10 G's? The most G's would be on lift off, not touch down, and 10 is just plain nuts. Come on. If you think of a plane, and touchdown, you are going in the same direction of gravity, not against it.

    I mean conceptually, the article doesn't make sense, and I hope people will realize that.
    • Re:I Smell A Rat (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:08PM (#6397579) Homepage Journal
      uhh ever take physics? g forces are a measure of acceleration in reference to the standard acceleration of freefall on earth. Since they are saying 10g's at touchdown, that means the acceleration at tuchdown is 10*g(9.8M/s/s), or about 98M/s/s. Since mass*acceleration=force, your mass*98m/s/s==the downward force you would create on this landing. Using g's, you remove the unit dependance, making it easier to create estimates such as "at 10g's a person weighing 180Lbs would feel like they weigh 1800Lbs". What is also important but not mentioned is the duration and delta of this acceleration.


  • Missin the Point (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Blastus ( 686728 )
    The X prize is about paving the way for paying customers to get to space. It's about developing a cheap re-usable space craft to do it. Lighting off hair chemicals for launches and crashing for landings? You gonna pony up for that? Go ahead. I'll call Rutan for my flight, thanks.
  • Late again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by apsmith ( 17989 ) * on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:26PM (#6397659) Homepage
    RocketForge [] had a link to this posted 3 days ago! So I got to see the video before you guys slashdotted the server :-)
  • Video Torrent (Score:5, Informative)

    by heli0 ( 659560 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:34PM (#6397701)
    BitTorrent of the Video here: Test.mpg.mpeg.torrent []

  • by dogfart ( 601976 ) on Tuesday July 08, 2003 @11:57PM (#6397843) Homepage Journal
    seems like a lot of trouble to squach an armadillo. Usually speeding cars do just fine.
  • Just curious (Score:2, Offtopic)

    I'm not flamebaiting here, I'm generally curious:

    With John C's cash, don't you think he could afford some bandwidth?

    I mean, seriously, how many times has he been /.'d with this website that they keep hi-res pics and videos on?

    He doesn't have to have a monster monthly bill to suffice, but at the very least you would imagine he could utilize a hoster who could provide the type of bandwidth a /.-hit might cause.

    I love the work, the ideas, the sheer gall of the project, but damn, why is it everytime somethi
    • As someone who has served out "Geeks in Space" audio files for Slashdot, I don't buy the whole bandwidth issue of slashdotting.

      I think that most of the "slashdot effect" is due to Web servers themselves failing, generally because of low hard drive bandwidth of dynamic sites. There is also the issue of kernels not configured properly to handle large numbers of open files & processes.

      Slashdotting of a Web site should only create a couple of Mbps of network bandwidth. Now if you pay per GB transfer, th
  • Jerk (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Baldrson ( 78598 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2003 @12:20AM (#6397974) Homepage Journal
    "10Gs" isn't really that informative. In addition to meters per second squared, the key units to report for the landing are meters per second cubed or "jerk []". That tells you how much destructive load is imparted by the acceleration. If they published the accelerometer output it should be easy to figure.
    • Re:Jerk (Score:2, Interesting)

      by evilWurst ( 96042 )
      Well, m/s^2 *was* given - that's what gees are. One gravity is, what, 9.8m/s^2? So ten of them would be 980m/s^2. The jerk ratings would be nice, though. If they put up a pretty graph of gees vs time, we'd be able to figure it out.
  • It seems that most voters [] at XPrize [] believe that the SCALED COMPOSITES, LLC [] have a better chance to take home the XPrize than Armadillo Aerospace.

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl