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Armadillo Aerospace Takes Level 1 Lunar Lander Prize

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the easy-money dept.

Space 50

jedibfa writes "Las Cruces International Airport came alive with applause and cheers yesterday afternoon as John Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace took the first place prize for the Level 1 challenge of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, winning $350,000 and bragging rights. Adding to the excitement of the day, shortly before completing their second qualifying flight, Armadillo Aerospace and The Rocket Racing League announced a joint program to develop a sub-orbital tourist vehicle that will fly out of the New Mexico-based Spaceport America and cost less than $100,000 per ticket. On Sunday, the team will have three opportunities to go for the Level 2 challenge that more closely approximates the required performance for a real lunar landing. Good luck, Armadillo Aerospace, both on Sunday and in your new endeavor!" We discussed preparations for the challenge last week. Several other readers have contributed additional coverage, including the Space Fellowship's live blog of the event, the website for Truezer0, another team participating in the challenge, and a VentureBeat article discussing the economic downturn in space exploration, and how the X-prize competitions figure in. Today's Level 2 challenge will be covered live via webcast.

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Now for a mars rover (1)

thealsir (927362) | about 6 years ago | (#25509097)

Carmack knows what needs to be just needs to be able to go underground some.

Don't let Carmack win!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509101)

It's clear we don't want Carmack's team to win:

He has stated a few times in the past that he really starts liking the whole rocket-thing: Even more so than his coding brilliance.
Therefor I think it's in the best interest of gamers all around the world (or at least admirers of tech-engines ;-) ), that he does not win, or even gets close to winning, any of these contests.

Preferably here would of course be that one of those rockets would be misfired, killing one of the crowd (or killing a father of someone who can then become Carmack's arch nemesis) ; And with some everlasting guilt on his part, we'll be guaranteed that Mr. Carmack's coding abilities will be put towards games.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509433)

Well if he gets really good at the rocket thing, maybe you could live DooM rather than just play it.

Wait maybe that's not such a good thing...

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509475)

Carmack isn't a particularly brilliant programmer. He's just pragmatic and dedicated to putting in the effort to create something.

The code in Q1-Q3 is your standard stuff, nothing special in there and in fact it's too limited in many areas that could use a little more flexibility (ie. it was a bad design). It's basically a hacker's engine. You know, like what a kid would write in his garage. This is pretty much why he had to write a whole new engine from scratch each time. However limited in design, his stuff is simple and fast so that's his advantage. Nothing brilliant about that though. Don't get me wrong, it's all good. I prefer the Quake engine because I'm a garage hacker myself.

This is in contrast to something like the Unreal engine which is based on code developed more than 10 years ago. Not that this is a good approach either. The Unreal engine is complicated and was in development for years, went way over budget and missed schedules left and right. Once it was done though it has proven to be very flexible and extensible and continues to this day as a perfectly modern and popular engine. It's more like what a computer scientist would design and build.

Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages. I tend to split the difference with my own programming work.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509681)

I hate to break it to you, but it sort of WAS a hacker's engine. Not to mention it was the first of this kind. I think you're trying to compare the model T to a Prius here. Just because the Prius is better engineering doesn't take anything from the Model T.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (5, Insightful)

cecom (698048) | about 6 years ago | (#25509863)

he code in Q1-Q3 is your standard stuff, nothing special in there and in fact it's too limited in many areas that could use a little more flexibility (ie. it was a bad design)...Nothing brilliant about that though.

Nonsense. I didn't see you write it. Brilliance means having the vision and persistence to get the job done when it needs to be done. To know what has to be done, to be able to make the right compromises, etc. Carmack really is f*ing brilliant.

Looking at the job that somebody else has done successfully and thinking that you could have done it, now that you have seen it, is ridiculous. Technically I get the same thoughts what I look at Carmack's sources (or at the Linux kernel sources for that matter). But the point is, you or I didn't write those things.

Remember, most brilliant ideas appear obvious in hindsight.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509997)

Eh? You're making the same mistake with me. How do you know I'm not qualified to say whether or not his code was brilliant? I was writing 3D engines at the same time Quake1 was being developed. I work in the business too.

It has nothing to do with hindsight. It has to do with working with the engines to get stuff done and whether or not the engine was designed very well.

For all I know you shouldn't comment either because you're also some random person on the Internet. Others in the know that have worked with the Quake source agree with me.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25510183)

> I was writing 3D engines at the same time Quake1 was being developed. I work in the business too.

So its envy?

I dont see you posting with your name. So put up or shut up.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

Timbo (75953) | about 6 years ago | (#25511325)

I don't agree with you.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

7 digits (986730) | about 6 years ago | (#25512145)

So, if you were coding 3d engines at that time, you were following the carmack's .plan update at this time, didn't you ?

Just tell me that you were not impressed at the extraordinary /speed/ at which he rewrote the engine a couple of time, or when he hacked together a virtual virtual machine/jit for quake mods ?

Of course, his code is nothing extraordinary, and I have been impressed a few times by the fact that he didn't knew things I considered self-evident. But the truth is being able to actually sit down and write down everything, "make it happen", is what makes him so great. Oh, that and the fact that I am quite a fast coder, but I think he he still an order of magnitude faster than I am...

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | about 6 years ago | (#25512197)

I was writing 3D engines at the same time that Quake came out. Mine were written in high level languages, because code reusability was very important to the project's sponsors. Quake was written to do one thing and do it as fast as possible. Carmack wanted a high frame rate, and was willing to sacrifice everything else to achieve it. It turned out that high frame rates translated into high sales, meaning high profits. Other people at that time had other priorities, and were willing to sacrifice frame rate to get them. They tried to get high profits by reducing the cost of development or by charging more for their product. It turns out that Carmack's approach led to the highest profits. So, was he brilliant, lucky, or some mix? I know which way I lean.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25513529)

Well then which 3D engine did you work on? Care to elaborate?
Face it, Q1-Q3 are generally well written judging from the speed at which they run to their portability across different platforms.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25523801)

Most software engineers don't include execution output in their definition of "well written code" or if they do it's basically 'outputs required output in an acceptable timeframe, +1 point (out of many hundreds of points)'

I haven't seen the Q1-Q3 code and probably wouldn't be qualified to judge whether it's well written or not, but I am a programmer, and it sounds like you're a software user and not a programmer and you're trying to guess what good programming is.

Points for trying but you're getting it wrong.

P.S. Carmack is a successful, intelligent, recognized geek rock star. I believe there must be some genius in achieving all that.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (2)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | about 6 years ago | (#25518669)

Carmack isn't a particularly brilliant programmer. He's just pragmatic and dedicated to putting in the effort to create something.

The code in Q1-Q3 is your standard stuff, nothing special in there and in fact it's too limited in many areas that could use a little more flexibility (ie. it was a bad design).

The code in Q1-Q3 was "standard stuff" because "standard" in that era was defined as "whatever John Carmack does".

John Carmack had a strength most other programmers lack: reading academic papers and applying them. Hell, in that era, reading RFCs made one an above-average programmer.

If you think John Carmack wasn't brilliant, then you haven't examined the work of his contemporaries. Comparing the code he wrote 10 years ago against code others write today isn't fair.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

zaydana (729943) | about 6 years ago | (#25509823)

Sir, you can't be serious. You'd have somebody be killed so you can sit in your parent's basement and waste your life on computer games? I hope you're joking, but even if it's a joke, I find it rather distasteful.

Now don't get me wrong. A good game can be a great way to relax a bit. But wishing a group of people's lives to be pretty much ruined and another person's life to be ended for the sake of relaxing a bit? You need to get out more.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (3, Funny)

YourExperiment (1081089) | about 6 years ago | (#25509837)

Did I just hear the sound of a rocket whooshing by overhead?

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | about 6 years ago | (#25510091)

ah, the battle of the Johns...

John Carmack:

  • Hovertank 3D +1
  • Wolf3D +1
  • Doom +1
  • Doom II +2
  • Heretic +1
  • Hexen +1
  • Quake +1
  • Final Doom +1
  • Quake II +1
  • Quake III +2
  • Doom 3 +2
  • Wolfenstein +1

John Romero:

  • Hovertank 3D +1
  • Wolf3D +1
  • Doom +1
  • Doom II +2
  • Heretic +1
  • Hexen +1
  • Quake +1
  • Final Doom +1
  • Quake II +1
  • Daikatana -20
  • Deus Ex +2
  • Red Faction -1
  • Stevie Case (NSFW) [] +20

Carmack 15
Romero 11

::sigh::, Romero could have scored at least another 10 points if he'd only kept his majestic pony-like mane. he's like Samson. his hair is the source of his superhuman powers, and without his glorious chevelure he is just a mere mortal.

Re:Don't let Carmack win!!! (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | about 6 years ago | (#25510257)

While John (Romero) deserves every single one of the -20 Daikatana points, he should get at least as many points back for his Melvin comic strips [] . His site used to have quite a few of them, but now all the links go the smugmug homepage, and his gallery there only has this one.

Excellent work! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509115)

Make sure the device is immune from Italians who hide on the Moon to attack robotes with their nefarious ices. Watch out for Italians!

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509165)

How much XP to next level, then?

Alright man! (2)

cUnNiNg_StUnTs (905838) | about 6 years ago | (#25509237)

Congratulations John way to go dude! Another Bean with Bacon success. =)

Re:Alright man! Agreed, 110%, & I knew he'd do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25510041)

Carmack's Throatless Rocket Engine: []

3++ years ago here on this website, when everyone was discussin (more like 'bitching') here about "Carmack's 'Throatless Rocket Engine'" ?

Well - I pretty much knew this guy would achieve his goals, because he's a brilliant person that works hard...

Salient quote from that URL above, from 2005, & about Armadillo Aerospace/JC??

"Never underestimate folks like those, they often surprise"

And, here he is, doing it - awards & achieving things in a TOTALLY diff. genre than game engine creation - after he took that "hard right turn" into another area... just give people like that time (people with talent + intellect & drive) & they can go anywhere + do nearly anything.


Re:Alright man! (1)

SebaSOFT (859957) | about 6 years ago | (#25524967)

Agreed, congratulations, Mr. Carmack

Keep it up!, I knew Level 2 wasn't quite well, but things are finally awarding the efforts.

Armadillo (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | about 6 years ago | (#25509265)

Isn't that what the asteroid drilling rig/lander was called in Armageddon?

Re:Armadillo (1)

Taint Bearer (957479) | about 6 years ago | (#25509369)

Yeah, it was.

Video? (1)

untree (851145) | about 6 years ago | (#25509299)

Armadillo is usually pretty good about distributing videos of their flights, but I can't seem to find this one on their website yet. Anyone else had better luck finding a video of this flight?

Re:Video? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25509437)

the videos are good but sometimes take a while to show up on their website. Found some on youtube though

Re:Video? (3, Interesting)

BiggerBoat (690886) | about 6 years ago | (#25511605)

Good lord, we're still at the Las Cruces airport packing up as I type this on my iPhone. I'll be putting together the videos when I get back to Dallas.

Matthew Ross
Armadillo Aerospace

Re:Video? (1)

bentob0x (999087) | about 6 years ago | (#25540385)

No excuses, typing this on your iPhone has probably taken you just as long as uploading the videos ...

Focus is a matter of deciding what you're not going to do ...

(Jokes aside, gratz on the prize, well deserved after all the hard work)

Bad news (3, Informative)

YourExperiment (1081089) | about 6 years ago | (#25509349)

Just been watching the live feed of the level 2 challenge, and the first launch has been aborted. The engines fired briefly, but then Pixel tipped over onto its side. Luckily the damage doesn't appear to be too serious, there's some speculation they might make a second attempt at launch. Commiserations Armadillo!

Re:Bad news (1)

pjt33 (739471) | about 6 years ago | (#25510385)

I saw that, came back here to comment, and then got thoroughly confused because TFS says that they're trying on Sunday.

Wow, can't wait to spend life savings throwing up. (-1, Troll)

eyenot (102141) | about 6 years ago | (#25509611)

I'm glad that the ticket prices are projected to only reach the nearly $100,000 level. If it had been $125,000 or so I would have had to just go out and die on the spot, because, gee, the extra 25,000 I wouldn't have been able to just, you know dig out of pocket change or turn in returnable containers to make up the difference. Yes I and my as-yet-nonexistant family are all very happy under the new Spacefaring People's Attention-Craving System. *Secret Tear I Can Barely Hide*. I and my progeny will work very hard to qualify for our reproductive samples to be preserved on the International Space Station and *weep* we all love very much the possibility that what we'll *realistically* be able to scrape together in our entire lifetime will be able to at least buy a ride for the ashes of me, the First Progenitor of our meager slave heritage, way up into the stars. We all love and adore our symbolic ruler The Solid Fuel Packet and we strive hard every day to meet the merits of the projected Psychohistorical Model. Praise Robot, We Love Hard Labor And Looking Up To Impossible Dreams Liveable Only By 1% Of The World Population. *holding back tears in the face of opression*. I MY FAMILY AND MY PEOPLE LOVE SPACE FOR NOW AND ALL TIME, PLEASE DON'T KILL US WITH YOUR DEATH-RAYS FROM THE SKY.

Obama's position on space prizes (2, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | about 6 years ago | (#25509741)

This winning flight is welcome good news at a time when many have concerns about a down-turn in commercial space [] and Obama, the likely next President of the United States has recently said of such prizes [] , "When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win â" he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project..."

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (2, Insightful)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 6 years ago | (#25509817)

Obama, the likely next President of the United States has recently said of such prizes...

To be fair, it was probably just some (lame) election rethoric on Obama's part, even though Obama might be more inclined to go for big state funded programmes rather than offer incentives to private enterprise.

By the way, what is the deal with Obama...? Europe has always been leaning slightly towards Democrat candidates in presidential elections, but it's reached ridiculous levels this time. The media show nothing but Obama, the Dutch national broadcast service sent a team of 8 reporters and tv show people to cover Obama's campain 24/7, then they more or less "forgot" to send anyone to cover McCain at the Republican convention. Palin did get a little press... it's small wonder that as a result over 85% of this country would vote for Obama if given the chance; they don;t even know who the other guy is. It's like those old Soviet Union elections where there's only one candidate.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (2, Interesting)

anethema (99553) | about 6 years ago | (#25510013)

Are you really surprised? I'm Canadian so have a somewhat similar view that many of the Europeans do, in that the rest of the world is REALLY hoping Obama wins. After 8 years of bush threatening to put the USA into another depression and stuck in a war it can't win(and should not have started), it is small wonder the Europeans don't want someone in the white house that shares many of Bush's views and a vice president who makes Bush look like a libertarian. Not to mention the prospect of McCain surviving his entire presidency is a little bleak.

So forgive us if we wish your country well by hoping Obama wins (which looks essentially certain at this point but who knows) rather than having another Bush (or worse if McCain died) in office. We hope your economy thrives rather that drops like a rock taking the world economy down with it.

It is all anecdotal, but I'd say roughly 99 percent of the people I meet and speak to about this issue feels the same way.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (1)

Toonol (1057698) | about 6 years ago | (#25510217)

So, you're saying that the massive bias of your media worked it's magic on you and most of your acquaintences?

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (2, Insightful)

YourExperiment (1081089) | about 6 years ago | (#25510521)

No, I think he's saying that it's truly incomprehensible that anyone in their right mind would elect someone like McCain at this point in time.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25511041)

I see the massive bias of OUR media has worked its magic on you

Not really (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 6 years ago | (#25515133)

The simple fact is, that McCain IS more bush. And since the next president is not likely to do all 4 years, Palin IS just another Bush, only even dumber.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25511525)

In two weeks you'll be be talking about the massive bias of the voters.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 6 years ago | (#25511733)

Well to be honest there are 5 people that have a public profile Obama, McCain and Palin, and Tina Fey and some guy called joe the plummer. The democratic vice president candidate (I know his name just) has no coverage I believe he is a man. Anything else would be a guess.

  Obama seems like he would change things for the better, John McCain will ensure Obama has to justify his actions as president. That seems like a good outcome.

It's funny really but I think Obama would put his country first and his party second. I also think John McCains chances would be better if he was running against Hilary.

I think i'm more influenced by American sources than British news and more by what Americans have been saying rather than the news channels.

Obama makes me feel optimistic McCain like its back to the seventys.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (1)

anethema (99553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25675633)

Not only do the other posts below make points, but I use XBMC for my television, do not read the newspaper, and have Sirius radio (no ads).

There is essentially no broadcast news or advertising in my life (adblock as well of course) so the only information I have on your candidates is information I have gleaned from purposefully researching (mostly) American political news sources and web sites on the internet.

McCain had many of the same views as bush on key issues such as war, abortion, taxes the list goes on. Palin is an ULTRA religious conservative nutjob, who if she got in the white house would either be a puppet of some generals below her, or worse a monster due to her insane views.

Obama is basically an unknown, but at least his speeches are good, he seems educated and well spoken, and I like his choice for VP.

Now that they have been elected (of course) lets see if they can do better than bush (which, really, anyone smart enough not to eat themselves when they get hungry should be able to do) and get you guys, and consequently us (to a smaller degree) out of this mess.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25518123)

I bet you watch that muslim spew "little mosque on the prairie" also. With friends like you it's no wonder the USA has gone alone in the fight against the terrorists. I was at the XPrize yesterday and the day before, and saw the muscular self confidence that embodies America at it's best. Stop being a typical passive agressive Canadian and support your friends down south. I'm a Canadian too, and I'm embarrassed by my fellow whining losers.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 6 years ago | (#25514349)

It is certainly plausible that Obama wasn't very serious about what he said. It is, however, unfortunate if our main hope for avoiding another 50 years of technosocialist suppression of progress in space hinges on our faith in the next President's lack of integrity.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 6 years ago | (#25514377)

The deal with Obama is basically "The New Deal" with more emphasis on racial politics this time around. The media is falling all over themselves in moral vanity.

Re:Obama's position on space prizes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25510395)

Mr. Bowery, do be going back to the Stormfront and talk about how immigration causes the autism and write some more about how the Jews are using up all of your precious womens.

The quote was in reference to energy, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25515027)

specifically, IIRC, the problem of battery tech and fuel mileage as it pertains to the automotive industry.

I don't think he's wrong. Detroit has done bupkis for years, and with the dire financial situation they're in now it seems pretty unlikely to expect much from them now.

But anyway, he wasn't talking about outer space.

Re:The quote was in reference to energy, (1)

Baldrson (78598) | about 6 years ago | (#25517653)

It's kind of hard to say "he wasn't talking about outer space" when he makes specific reference to the Apollo program and "rocket scientists". True, his response was to a proposal for an energy prize, but look at his own words.

aiming at the wrong target? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25511015)

I am all for exploring and learning as much as we can, about the earth we live on as well as in outer space. However, it seems folly to be pushing manned space flight when the price per unit pay-off is so much better with robotic instruments -- as witness those two geologists who've been up on Mars for a couple of years now. Manned space flight is horribly expensive ... but it is really sexy and the politicians love it.

Re:aiming at the wrong target? (1)

sketerpot (454020) | about 6 years ago | (#25513439)

Pushing any kind of spaceflight will make it more economical to develop cheaper ways of getting to space. I hope.
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