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Armadillo Aerospace

Armadillo Aerospace is one of many amateur projects to develop an inexpensive rocket vehicle. "Amateur" in this context is not a measure of expertise (which can be quite high), but indicates that the team is operating outside "official" facilities such as NASA or ESA, and also that their rocket design is quite different from the traditional one. Further, Armadillo is a real for-profit corporation. However, as of this writing, all of the labor is volunteer and all the participants have other full-time jobs.

Armadillo Aerospace is lead by John Carmack, popular computer programmer of games such as Doom and Quake, and has the main goal of winning the X-Prize.

Armadillo is entirely funded by Carmack's Id Software fortune. He expects to spend approximately 1 million dollars in development of his X-Prize vehicle, a ridiculously small amount of money by large Aerospace company standards.

What's interesting about Armadillo's methods is their usage of modern computer technology to simplify and reduce costs of rockets. For example, instead of stabilization fins which complicate the design and increase drag, they use an aerodynamically unstable design, where the computer throttles the engines based on feedback from fiber optic gyroscopes.

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