In early December, Armadillo Aerospace successfully launched its STIG-A suborbital rocket from Spaceport America, flying to an altitude of nearly 42 kilometers before successfully returning to Earth by parachute. Shortly after that December 4 flight they released a video of the flight, shown below:
On Saturday they were back at the Spaceport for another flight of the rocket. According to a press release issued by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) late Saturday, that flight was at least partially successful. The rocket lifted off as planned and again flew to nearly 42 kilometers, based on preliminary data. However, the release notes, the rocket’s “recovery system did not function properly after reaching its desired altitude however, the rocket was successfully retrieved after a hard landing within the predicted Spaceport America mission recover zone.” No other details about the launch, which was not publicized in advance at the request of Armadillo, have been released yet. Since the company has been open in the past about talking about tests that didn’t go as planned, though, we should hear more from them soon.
Since the NMSA press release is not up yet on the Spaceport America web site, I’ve included the text of the release below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 28, 2012
Armadillo Aerospace launches their third “STIG-A” rocket from Spaceport America
Upham, NM – New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) officials announced today a launch of a “STIG-A” rocket designed and built by Armadillo Aerospace. The launch took place from Spaceport America’s vertical launch complex on Saturday, January 28, 2012. The research and development test flight was a non-public, unpublished event at the request of Armadillo Aerospace, as the company is testing proprietary advanced launch technologies.
Saturday’s Armadillo launch successfully lifted off at approximately 11:15 a.m. (MDT), which was within the dedicated, five-hour launch window, and preliminary data indicates the rocket reached its projected altitude of over 137,000 feet.
The STIG-A’s recovery system did not function properly after reaching its desired altitude however, the rocket was successfully retrieved after a hard landing within the predicted Spaceport America mission recover zone.
Armadillo Aerospace plans to release additional information on today’s launch in the coming days after they have time to analyze their launch data further.
“This was the third test of the Armadillo “STIG A” reusable sub-orbital rocket technology to launch at Spaceport America. The last successful “STIG-A” was launched at the spaceport on December 4, 2011.
Today’s launch was the 14th launch from the Spaceport America vertical launch complex since 2006 and marks the 4th Armadillo Aerospace launch from the spaceport. Armadillo Aerospace has additional plans to launch from Spaceport America this year.
About Armadillo Aerospace
Founded in 2000, Armadillo Aerospace has an unequaled experience base with over 200 flight tests spread over a dozen different vehicles. The company has done work for NASA and the United States Air Force, and flown vehicles at every X-Prize Cup and Northrup Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge event, including those held in New Mexico from 2006 to 2008.
For more information, please visit www.armadilloaerospace.com.
About Spaceport America
Spaceport America has been providing commercial launch services since 2006. Phase One of the construction for the spaceport is expected to be complete in early 2012. Phase Two of the construction and pre-operations activities will follow, including the development of a world-class Visitor Experience for students, tourists and space launch customers. Officials at Spaceport America have been working closely with entrepreneurial space leaders like Armadillo Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, and UP Aerospace, as well as established aerospace firms like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and MOOG-FTS to develop commercial spaceflight at the new facility. The economic impact of launches, tourism and new construction at Spaceport America are already delivering on the promise of economic development to the people of New Mexico.
For more information, please visit: www.spaceportamerica.com