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Armadillo Aerospace, Experimental Lunar Lander Flight (Day1)

Published by Rob on Sun Oct 28, 2007 11:09 am
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Day one for Armadillo didn’t get off to a great start. There were problems early on in the day which lead to attempt one being scrapped. We are now led to believe that these problems were caused by ignition problems on the mod vehicle. The crew went back to their hangar and got the craft ready for the afternoon window. They fuelled up again and sat ready on the pad.

Prepping for the flight Armadillo again had noticed problems similar to earlier on in the day. Armadillo felt that the problem was fixable so decided to clean the blockage, crewmembers filed down a paper clip and poked it through the igniter’s orifice.

In true spirit the Unreasonable Rocket Team offered to help install a filter for Armadillo, Carmack described this as “unbelievably good sportsmanship.”

View the Unreasonable Rocket Team’s blog:
http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/10/qa-unreasonable.html

The first stage of the Lunar Lander challenge was to get the module to rise 50 metres, travel 100 meters horizontally, fly for over 90 seconds then come down on a target pad. Armadillo managed to get module1 to complete this phase.

Phase two was the return journey and Armadillo had to get back to the original pad and land again. The module managed to go the 100 metres horizontally back to the pad, it then began trying to reach the 90 seconds airtime which it needed to win the $350,000 prize. Carmack was aware that module1 had some problems so he kept the craft close to the ground so that any problem would not lead to the craft dropping further then needed.

The flight reportedly was only seven seconds short of the required 90 when it tipped over and crashed. A video has been uploaded by New Scientist which shows most of the flight. A tree however hides the landing part of the flight thus missing the final tilt and crash. Click the image below to watch an uploaded Youtube version:

James Bauer reportedly said the problem was something that was apparent from the start of the flight. He described how the engine had a “Hard Start” therefore igniting too much fuel too fast. This lead to a cracked engine and an excessive fuel tank. Though the plan to hover module1 over the pad was in place, the craft quickly ran out of fuel and dropped to the ground gathering some horizontal motion leading to the craft losing balance and falling over. Carmack added “It’s frustrating that we’ve done this flight successfully (in test situations),” he said. “But flying it back to back is harder.” (See Armadillo’s discussions in their official forum http://spacefellowship.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=23)

For a video of an earlier working flight watch: http://media.armadilloaerospace.com/2007_10_21/modFreeFlight.mpg

James Bauer later said there would have to be a lot of work done to make module1 flyable again but emphasized that this is the sort of thing Armadillo have done before, he later added that it would take around four hours. This would leave time for Sunday’s 15:00 GMT launch window.

Armadillo also have a chance to enter into the $1million prize for a 180 duration flight. This would be done with their more powerful and larger craft “Pixel” the pad will be bumpy this time simulating the surface of The Moon.

To keep up to date with Sunday’s events please visit the Armadillo Aerospace XPC thread at http://spacefellowship.com/Forum/viewtopic.php?t=323.

The International Space Fellowship wishes the team all the best of luck through Sunday.

Copyright 2007 The International Space Fellowship. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

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