Armadillo Aerospace Successfully Lauches a Sounding Rocket from Spaceport America

Over the weekend Armadillo Aerospace successfully launched an advanced sounding rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The launch took place on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. (MST), and the STIG A rocket reached its expected sub-orbital altitude of 41.91 km (137,500 feet). Below is an image of Earth taken by a camera on board the rocket.

This latest launch is the thirteenth vertical launch test from the Spaceport America Vertical Launch Complex since 2006.


“This successful test of our “STIG A” reusable sub-orbital rocket technology represents major progress for the Armadillo Aerospace flight test program,” said Neil Milburn, Vice President of Program Management at Armadillo Aerospace. “The flight successfully demonstrated many of the technologies that we need for our manned sub-orbital program.”

The STIG is a long, sleek rocket designed for lower drag, high speed, high altitude flights. This rocket is aerodynamically optimized for high altitude flights with long 15 inches (38 cm) diameter cylindrical tanks instead of larger spherical tanks.

Armadillo requested that the test flight be a non-public, unpublished event, as the company is testing proprietary advanced launch technologies.

The company is one of the leading developers of reusable rocket-powered vehicles and plans to provide a platform for civilian access to suborbital space via a partnership with Space Adventures, Ltd. Armadillo Aerospace has flown over 200 flight tests with over a dozen different vehicles.

Armadillo Aerospace's STIG A rocket launches from Spaceport America. Credit: Space Adventures

On board the rocket was an experiment designed, built, tested, integrated, and performed by a team of undergraduate students at the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the College of Engineering at Purdue University. The experiment studied a liquid and gas flow process that is sensitive to the gravity and acceleration levels encountered during spaceflight.
“Spaceport America has been an ideal launch facility for this kind of vehicle R&D testing activity,” said John Carmack, President and CTO of Armadillo Aerospace.

Officials from the spaceport were please at the launch’s success as well.

“Spaceport America continues to set the precedent for safe, efficient, effective service for commercial spaceflight customers,” said NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson. “We are extremely pleased to support Armadillo Aerospace as they conduct their high altitude vehicle flight testing, and look forward to hosting their NASA-funded suborbital research launches.”

Source: Spaceport America

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