It looks like Armadillo Aerospace is preparing to flying their “Tube” rocket as soon as this weekend. John Carmack announced on the aRocket mailing list that they’re planning a flight of the rocket to about 30 kilometers (100,000 feet) this weekend from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The rocket, a long, narrow vehicle powered by a single LOX/alcohol engine, is designed as a “risk reduction step” towards eventual plans for a vertical takeoff/vertical landing human-rated vehicle. Armadillo has been performing some static and hover tests of the vehicle recently, as shown in this photo by Armadillo’s Ben Brockert about a week and a half ago.
In the brief message, Carmack said that if the launch goes as expected and they recover the rocket (which will descend under parachute), they plan to perform some upgrades and launch it again within a couple months, this time to over 100 kilometers. And if the launch doesn’t go well? “I imagine the mood in the shop will be pretty grim while building up a new version of this vehicle if all we got out of the previous one was a couple hover tests and a crash,” he writes.