Armadillo Aerospace—the company founded and owned by id boss and Doom co-creator John Carmack—has a good chance of winning itself $US1,000,000 after taking out NASA's lunar lander challenge.
Armadillo's Scorpius craft is the first in a field of entrants to successfully complete the requirements laid out by NASA, which involved ascending 164 feet, flying to a spot 164 feet away, landing, taking off then flying back to where it started. If neither of the two competing craft can satisfy the requirements by October 31, Armadillo will scoop the prize by default, which stands at a cool $US1 million.
And after the cash? Next stop, space.
"Since the Lunar Lander Challenge is quite demanding in terms of performance, with a few tweaks our Scorpius vehicle actually has the capability to travel all the way to space," says Carmack.
"We'll be moving quickly to do higher-altitude tests, and we can go up to about 6000 feet here at our home base in Texas before we'll have to head to New Mexico where we can really push the envelope. We already have scientific payloads from universities lined up to fly as well, so this will be an exciting next few months for commercial spaceflight."