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Armadillo Aerospace Suspends Vehicle Development Work

John Carmack, founder of Armadillo Aerospace. Credit: NASA photo

Suborbital rocket developer Armadillo Aerospace has suspended work on its reusable launch vehicles and is in a “hibernation mode” while it looks for new investors, the company’s founder said Aug. 1.

“The situation that we’re at right now is that things are turned down to sort of a hibernation mode,” John Carmack said during a presentation at the QuakeCon video game conference in Dallas. He said he decided to “spin down most of the development work for this year” after the company’s most recent launch of its STIG-B rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico in January. The rocket crashed after a parachute failed to deploy.

Carmack, best known for his work on video games such as Doom and Quake, said he decided two years ago to fund the company out his own pocket, turning down contract work that had previously allowed the Caddo Mills, Texas-based company to turn an operating profit. That decision was designed to allow Armadillo to focus on suborbital vehicle development. 

However, that work had gone slower than expected, Carmack said. He blamed that lack of progress on several factors, including limited time he had to devote to the company and “creeping professionalism” at the once all-volunteer Armadillo to satisfy the requirements of new customers, including NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

Carmack said he had supported Armadillo using “crazy money” he set aside from his video game business earnings, but is now actively looking for outside investors to restart the company’s operations. “I’ve basically expended my crazy money on Armadillo,” he said, “so I don’t expect to see any rockets in the real near future unless we do wind up raising some investment money.”

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