Encyclopedia Astronautica
Black Armadillo



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Black Armadillo
American manned spacecraft. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital ballistic spacecraft concept of Armadillo Aerospace, Mesquite, Texas. Reached the stage of engineering tests by 2003.

Black Armadillo was a concept of John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace, Mesquite, Texas. The vehicle used rocket-powered vertical takeoff and a parachute descent to a touchdown on land cushioned by a crushable nose cone. Armadillo Aerospace was incorporated on January 1, 2001, with the objective of winning the X-Prize. The Black Armadillo's propulsion system consisted of four pressure-fed, hydrogen peroxide, monopropellant system rocket engines fed from a single tank with a capacity of 6,055 liters. Testing of the crushable nose cone landing system was performed on a full-scale test vehicle dropped from 6 km altitude.

After SpaceShipOne had won the X-Prize, Armadillo Aerospace continued development of suborbital, piloted spacecraft. The company built a subscale demonstrator of a proposed one-person suborbital spacecraft, a conical vehicle three meters tall and powered by a LOX/ethanol engine. Armadillo Aerospace conducted an unmanned low-level test flight of the demonstrator at the X Prize Cup Exhibition in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in October 2005. A full-scale vehicle may be ready for suborbital spaceflight from White Sands, New Mexico as early as 2006. Armadillo's founder, John Carmack, had invested $2.5 million into the venture between 2000 and 2005.

Gross mass: 8,000 kg (17,600 lb).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • America's Space Prize Following the success of the Ansari X-Prize in motivating flight of the first commercial suborbital manned spacecraft, Robert Bigelow announced the 'America's Space Prize' - $ 50 million - to the first team to fly an orbital manned spacecraft that completes two missions safely and successfully by January 10, 2010. More...
  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies

Black Armadillo Chronology


2002 September 28 - .
  • Black Armadillo test. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) successfully flight tests manned lander vehicle..

2002 November 16 - .
  • Black Armadillo tube rocket test. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) unsuccessfully tests flight of their tube rocket..

2003 February 16 - .
  • Black Armadillo first drop test. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) performed full-scale drop tests of their crushable nose cone..

2003 March 11 - .
  • Black Armadillo drop tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) performed their second and third full-scale drop tests of their crushable nose cone. The third test was manned. Both tests were considered successful..

2003 March 15 - .
  • Black Armadillo subscale hover tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) performed suspended hover tests of their sub-scale (two foot diameter) vehicle. Problems with electronic components and flight control software caused early termination of the tests..

2003 July 5 - .
  • Black Armadillo drop tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace (Mesquite, Texas, USA) performs a successful full-scale drop tests of their X PRIZE vehicle from a helicopter to test the crushable nosecone system. .

April 2004 - .
  • Black Armadillo prototype engine tests. - . Nation: USA. Program: X-Prize. Spacecraft: Black Armadillo. Summary: Armadillo Aerospace tested their X-Prize prototype vehicle's ability to ignite its multiple engines and hover several feet off the ground. Post test inspection showed that the vehicle insulation held up well, with no signs of any heat damage..

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