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Official Armadillo Q&A thread

Posted by: John Carmack - Tue Jun 15, 2004 8:01 am
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Official Armadillo Q&A thread 
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Space Walker
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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 12:19 am
Ok thanks, but what does getting a launch license involve?
Is there no way to speed up the process? Is there no politican that can be contacted on that?

Thanks for your time.



Btw I will google that bill -S1260


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 2:27 am
There are a number of good sites out there attempting to keep track of the regulatory issues involved in private space flight. NasaWatch & RocketForge are always good sites. In particular check out:

http://www.spacepolitics.com

and here's the HR 3752 post back in May...

http://www.spacepolitics.com/archives/000189.html


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 3:45 am
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Armadillo Aerospace does not endorse any political candidate or party. We just dislike self-centered, self-serving assholes with a vengeance!


Awe, you must have encountered at least one Republican senator, congressman or staffer who was a self-centered, self-serving asshole. Tom DeLay maybe? :)

Keep up the good work.


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Post How to help?   Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 4:10 am
Hi, I'm Neil, PhD student at Caltech. Even though it looks like Scaled will win the (first) X Prize, I'm much more a fan of the approach you Armadillos are taking. The "perfect test flight" video was incredible, and I suspect that my own first space jaunt (and those of many others) will be on a craft descended from yours, rather than something like the Scaled craft.

Even if we can't work on the craft directly, is there any way those of us who are fans of the project can help or support you guys?


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Post Re: How to help?   Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 8:21 pm
NeuronExMachina wrote:
Even if we can't work on the craft directly, is there any way those of us who are fans of the project can help or support you guys?


One thing might be to contact your senators as our Neil ("Bulldog") mentioned a few posts back. But you can also just buy some of our merchandise at www.armadilloaerospace.com. Armadillo is fully self-funded, but we use the money from merchandise sales for Krispy Kremes and other goodies conducive to rocket science :)


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Post More answers   Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 10:40 pm
One man vehicle in X-Prize cup:

I don't know. I rather suspect that the X-Prize cup will just be about exhibitions for quite some time. I think the entire concept of competing diverse vehicle designs at the stated categories isn't going to work. I have been pitching "Vertical Drag Racing" between similar rockets as an exhibition even for several years, and I still think that would be an interesting direction. Keep all the action in sight of the spectators, actually start them with a giant drag racing christmas tree, etc. It's not "space" related, but it would be a lot of fun with rockets...

Ducted fan platform:

Yes, the flight control systems should be a drop-in for a ducted fan platform, but we are focused on rockets.

Water landing:

If we have to make a mad dash for the X-Prize this year, we would probably be forced to do a water launch / landing, because no land spaceport is going to have their work done in time, and we are already past the window where WSMR could give us permission in time, even if I did throw the money at it. The normally have an 18 month (!!!) delay between inquiring about flight testing and first flight.

I doubt we will enjoy water operations.

Are we still trying to win:

We are still keeping our options open for a three man vehicle. I have ordered the catalyst and tank necessary for the X-Prize vehicle. Winning is certainly a long shot at this point, but there isn't too much of a difference between what we would do with or without the prize, so we are still in it.

Supporting us:

Technical comments from people with relevant real world experience are always welcome.

Letters to senators about specific space policy issues may have some benefit, but I'm not in tune with it enough to give guidance.

Sales of shirts and Armadillo Droppings brings in almost enough to cover the food we eat while working at the shop, but it doesn't make a dent in the actual rocket parts.

Eventually we will have real products, probably marketed through Space Adventures. Customers are always the best support. Until then, there isn't a whole lot that can be done.

SSTO:

I do not think we have the capabilities to make a true SSTO. I'm sure it is possible, but it would take a lot more exotic technology than we are going to put into a project. What I do think is possible is to make larger and larger boosters with our current technology, and put very high mass fraction upper stages on top of them that can actually make orbit. We would probably be looking at 98% peroxide + kerosene as the propellant. We will probably start doing some side development down those lines next year, in concert with continuing to evolve the boosters.


John Carmack


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 2:54 am
John,
- Right now Armadillo seems to be mostly a half-time or weekend activity for your group. At some point in the future, are you and the rest of the group planning to "quit their day jobs" (so to speak) :) and work on this full-time?

- Since you plan to turning off the engine for a good part of the descent, do you have plans for an RCS system? If so, would it feed from your monopropellant tank, or some separate gas storage?

- Are you concerned about the fuel sloshing around in a mostly empty tank when landing, possibly offsetting the center of mass? Does your flight control software anticipate such random imbalances that might occur?

Thanks for having such an open development process - your weekly updates are fun to read!

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Post No Pilot Needed   Posted on: Sun Jul 04, 2004 1:28 am
John;

How high can your design go without a pilot?

Assuming you could go sub orbital without a pilot, would the X-prize people be satisfied with a dummy in the pilot's seat?

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jul 04, 2004 9:39 pm
Wow, great question Tom

If X-prize rules say dummy passengers are OK, why not a dummy pilot?


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 05, 2004 7:20 pm
The new cabin looks great. Are there going to be view ports for each seat?

It's mentioned that you guys have a new 850 gallon tank on order. What's different between this new tank and the 850 gallon tank you already have?


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Post 850 gallon tank, monolith catalyst   Posted on: Mon Jul 05, 2004 8:29 pm
TJ: The current tank is made of fibreglass; the new one will be carbon fibre. Carbon fibre is light and stiff, but more expensive.

John: If a custom monolith catalyst monolith is prohibitively expensive for a 24" engine, could you save money by making your engine some shape other than a cylinder? If your engine was an octagon, you could make the cold pack out of square and triangular pieces, which might be cheaper. It seems to me that if you're using a micro-nozzle array, shape is less critical.


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Post More answers   Posted on: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:24 am
Day jobs:
We probably won't bring anyone on full time until Armadillo is showing an operating profit. Winning the X-Prize would certainly do this, but we are prepared to work up to it the old fashioned way, with customers. We still don't have marketable capabilities at this point, but that should be changing over the rest of this year.

RCS system:
No, we don't have an RCS system. The engine will only be turned off when the vehicle is aerodynamically stable during descent.

Slosh:
We don't think it is a problem for our tank size and trajectory, but we may yet be proven wrong.

How high without a pilot:
I have never done a simulation without any passengers. Probably in the 150 km or so range, at a wild guess.

X-Prize without a pilot:
It wouldn't count, and I support that position. Being a manned vehicle is the entire point. I do think it would have been better if the X-Prize had been for a single person vehicle from the start, though.

View ports in the new cabin:
There will be one in the hatch for sure, but we won't cut any other holes in it unless it actually becomes a commercial vehicle that will carry multiple real people. Pretty easy to do, but the reinforcements will add a bit more weight.

Carbon fiber tank:
The carbon tanks will basically cut the tank weight in half, saving 400+ pounds in an 850 gallon tank.

Monolith shapes:
The monoliths are built with a rolling process, so cylinders are the only option. In any case, you want pressure vessels to be surfaces of revolution. The price is enough to make me wince (about $8000 for the cold catalyst, and somewhat less for the hot catalyst), but if it can do a dozen space flights between replacements, it isn't all that bad. Heck, if we had to replace them every single flight, it would still be many times more cost effective than Scaled's engine...

John Carmack


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Post applying new nanotechnologies?   Posted on: Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:47 am
Have you considered using genetic algorithms? There is a flood of new nanotechnologies like rapid prototyping; have you considered using those to manufacture, or to use some supramolecular materials?


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Post Catalyst Images   Posted on: Tue Jul 06, 2004 3:35 am
Hi John,

I was wondering if you could take some pictures of the catalyst packs themselves next time you have the engine open. You've used so many different types in the past (monoliths, rings, beads, etc.) that I don't have a clear idea visually of what you are using now. Also are you still using an X shaped flame holder with spark plugs on top of the cold pack?

Thanks and keep up the good work!

-MrBlue


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jul 06, 2004 4:11 am
I'm just curious, what software/hardware are you using in your simulator? Is it X-Plane, perhaps? I'm pretty sure Scaled used it for something, and HARC put together a video with it, have you used it for anything? If so, could you post the rocket somewhere for download? I've already flown SS1 to space a couple of times, doing it with the Black Armadillo would be just perfect. 8) Best of luck for your big vehicle test tomorrow.

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