So close again…

Mod-1 in flight

Armadillo Aerospace came this close–again–to winning Level 1 of the LLC. This time they ran into problems with their first flight, landing early for reasons not yet clear. They were able to get a second flight in successfully, but when they tried to do a third flight (the return leg needed for the prize) the FAA window for operations at the airport closed. They still had plenty of time in the LLC window, but the FAA required flight ops to end at 9:30 am MDT so that airplane operations could resume. The competition asked for an extension but could not get one, so Armadillo scrubbed their flight. TrueZer0 has the next window starting at 11 am MDT; Armadillo has another window this afternoon that they will presumably use for another level 1 attempt.

Update 10:10 am MDT: John Carmack of Armadillo said in a brief interview that part of their problems was a 20-minute delay leaving the starting line because of organizational delays. That doesn’t affect theie 2.5-hour NGLLC window, but the FAA flight window at the airport is only 90 minutes long (8 – 9:30 am in this case) and inflexible. Also, Carmack said they had a problem with the first flight because they had to detune the engine to meet FAA safety requirements; that meant they couldn’t slow down their descent quickly enough, causing them to touch down early. They compensated for it on their second flight, but could not get the third flight in before the FAA window closed. Carmack said they needed about 10 more minutes to get that third flight in; they would have then plenty of time to get the vehicle back to the starting line to qualify for winning the prize. Armadillo does plan to try for Level 1 again in their afternoon window.

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