Doom co-creator John Rocket also helps create rockets. At QuakeCon 2010 in Dallas, Carmack was displaying his latest, which he hopes to launch this month. It's designed to go up 30,000m and then come straight back down. Theoretically.
During a Thursday night "rocket talk" at the con, Carmack talked about the history of his Armadillo Aerospace, a company he has put $US4 million into over the last decade and does all sorts of pioneering rocket work.
This is a highlight reel of what the Armadillo team does:
Their goal is to make a re-usable rocket that can travel to and return from space multiple times. Current rockets that go to space are destroyed in the process, which is one of the factors that keeps space travel prohibitively expensive.
The Armadillo rockets are supposed to propel themselves straight up and then lower themselves, stabilised by the computer, back to where they started. Carmack showed video of some of his team's rockets tests during his talk, describing some of the challenges his team faced as they made rockets that reached higher and might benefit from a parachute.
He showed a couple of videos of the test flights of these parachute-enabled rockets. This is one of them, one that shows that the parachute concept isn't so great:
The video at the top of this post shows the newest rocket design from Armadillo. This one is supposed to reach even higher, though not quite into space yet. Carmack hopes to fire it up this month. For now, though, it sits on the exhibition floor of QuakeCon 2010.