X Prize competitor Armadillo Aerospace has won a small US Air Force Research Laboratory deal to evaluate the Texan company's liquid-oxygen/ethanol rocket technology. The one-year, $100,000 contract is a small business innovation research (SBIR) Phase 1 award.

A small research and development team supported by computer-game entrepreneur John Carmack, Armadillo is developing computer-controlled LOX/ethanol rocket systems. It attempted to win the X Prize Lunar Lander Analog competition last October, but GPS navigation problems led the team to attempt a manual flight that ended in a crash.

"We will be commencing work on [the SBIR] imminently. Our proposal was based on evaluating the merits of our modular design to solve a variety of different solution spaces with extreme low cost and flexibility," says Armadillo vice-president Neil Milburn.

Armadillo is the second of two companies to be awarded an SBIR contract after attending an entrepreneurial space meeting with the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Colorado last month. Xcor Aerospace was awarded a $100,000 Phase 1 contract to design a suborbital demonstrator. The company has been working on liquid- oxygen/methane engines with Alliant Techsystems.

© Armadillo 
Armadillo is studying computer-controlled liquid-oxygen/ethanol rockets

Source: Flight International