Armadillo update

The latest as of about 12 noon MDT:

According to both X Prize and Armadillo personnel, the Mod did not suffer a hard start at the beginning of the first leg of its morning flight (as well as the beginning of its afternoon flight yesterday); only the return legs have suffered these hard starts. According to Armadillo’s Phil Eaton, their current working theory is that a slight change in the injector design, involving a different kind of O-ring, may be keeping alcohol vapors from dissipating as rapidly as they did in the past; the vapor build-up may still be present when the engines are ignited for the return flight, causing the hard start.

Still undecided is whether there will be a third flight opportunity late this afternoon. There are coordination issues with both the FAA and the Air Force that have to be worked out to see if they can fly after the air show ends, no earlier than 6 pm MDT. Since sunset is at 6:30 pm and civil twilight at 7 pm, that means the flights would take place either in twilight or darkness. Eaton said that won’t be an issue for them.

Eaton also said that regardless of whether Mod wins the Level 1 challenge this afternoon, they plan to use Pixel for a Level 2 attempt in the third window. One obstacles: competition judges have to rule whether a swap of Pixel’s engine from Mod back to Pixel would be allowed under the rules.

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