Doom designer's X-Prize attempt X-plodes

In 2000, famed game designer John Carmack founded Armadillo Aerospace, a company dedicated to building and launching a spacecraft and winning part of X-Prize Foundation's burgeoning purse of prize money. Unfortunately in August 2004, the company's attempt to get a $35,000 rocket off the ground...

In 2000, famed game designer John Carmack founded Armadillo Aerospace, a company dedicated to building and launching a spacecraft and winning part of X-Prize Foundation's burgeoning purse of prize money. Unfortunately in August 2004, the company's attempt to get a $35,000 rocket off the ground failed spectacularly, generating a Doom-worthy inferno seconds after ignition.

For the next three-plus years Armadillo Aerospace has tested and fined-tuned its designs to prevent another disaster. Over the weekend, Carmack and company again took to the proving ground, this time to vie for $350,000 in the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, part of this year's X-Prize competition.

Sadly, Armadillo's attempts went up in smoke--literally--when the vehicle tipped over and exploded just seconds before it would have won the prize by hovering for 180 seconds and then landing on a simulated moonscape. Pieces of the vehicle reportedly flew off in all directions in the explosion, which caused a fire large enough for Carmack to call for emergency assistance.

"From the field, we heard a little bit of a boom and there was a hard start on the engine of some type," X-Prize Foundation chairman and CEO Peter Diamandis told Space.com, which snapped a photo of the ensuing flames from afar (pictured). Carmack was more circumspect, saying only, "Today is officially a bad day when it comes to our vehicle."

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63 comments
Setmose
Setmose

It's a Carmack vehicle. It's supposed to explode.

Prowler_x1
Prowler_x1

John, for $350,000 I am sure you can make a garbage can get at least 10 feet off the ground before it explodes. Heck, go crazy and make it 20 feet. If you got money to burn you might as well give it to the charity and avoid the humiliation.

SlyCoopersButt7
SlyCoopersButt7

I heard of that crash for a while but I never knew John Carmack was the one behind that rocket! I was surprised to see this. UAC is having a bad start!

F10yd
F10yd

Shouldnt he be busy coding the new id tech 5 engine

jodamn
jodamn

I'll bet DOOM took a couple of tries too.

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

NASA sabotaged it to maintain their monopoly, those punks!

loumart08
loumart08

I was there when it happened

Doolum
Doolum

better luck to him next time

WormyTheWorm
WormyTheWorm

punishment for Doom3 LOL.... hmmm i think sum1 else may have already said that

Seymour47
Seymour47

The X-Prize competition hasn't exactly been rife with success over the years. Until Scaled Composites actually got their craft into orbit and then back to earth safely a few years ago, no private company had succeeded in any facet of the competition. So, the moral of the story is; this isn't a surprise. Kudos to them for getting so close though.

jknight5422
jknight5422

Sounds like this "re-invention of the wheel" crap for the space program isn't possible after all. Build on what has been proven to work already.

CLeRKSfan4life
CLeRKSfan4life

John Carmack is hardly "Our Hero" when it comes to rocket science

bluedevil64
bluedevil64

They fail to mention that Armadillo's craft was the ONLY one to actually launch, so not a total failure.

cann0n2o
cann0n2o

I've seen the footage its really cool, the explosion is the lamest bit! you can see it on the x-prize site and also the armadillo site... its well impressive

Chickensoup911
Chickensoup911

It's Gods way of telling you to give up rocket science and to hurry up and make Doom 4!

K_M82
K_M82

I hope this accident doesn't effect his ability to program great games in the future.

Bowser05
Bowser05

Ohmigosh John. At least he doesn't give up eh?

thisdude76
thisdude76

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

705H1R0
705H1R0

thebubbleprince, I doubt he spent "millions," seeing how the first one was only $35,000. [Insert joke about Rocket Science vs. Aperture Science here]

Reetesh
Reetesh

Hope Third time's a charm. 350,000$ Wont be that much a problem as it will all be back as soon as a new game releases :P

arbo303
arbo303

Stay in school, kids.

Valherran
Valherran

Which part? The Rockets or the Car Mechanics?

Jaeme
Jaeme

Guess he should stick to teleportation experiments. On second thoughjt maybe not.......

Haklin
Haklin

man..someone would be in deep doodoo over this..i mean really how could you just let it 'tip over' :S...

thebubbleprince
thebubbleprince

... well he wants to launch missles... let him, Hes prolly bawling at the moment because he spent millions on a rocket just to explode on take off.

polsci1503
polsci1503

good thing his rocket didn't make it - it would have opened the Gates of Hell.

StreetFighter10
StreetFighter10

This is called Karma. God is a HUUUUGE Doom fan and still plays it regularly. But he was VERY disappointed with the 'Emperor's New Clothes' crapfest that was Doom 3 and it's used-by-no-one engine.

Scroll-Lock
Scroll-Lock

frog154 He didn't make Daikatana luckily. I'm sure He'll be more lucky next time.

mrbojangles25
mrbojangles25

Thats what you get for making Wolfenstein 2 a 360 only title! Huzzah!

SgtStrungOut
SgtStrungOut

I guess he's DOOMed to have an eternity of no successful Aerospace projects. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

DemannameD
DemannameD

WHy isn't this on Youtube yet!!!!!!?????

vancealighieri
vancealighieri

John Carmack Is Rocket Scientist first, coding is like a hobby. True innovation doesn't always work the first few times. It takes many failed attempts to get a design right. I guarantee the next version will be much better.

dn3datomiced
dn3datomiced

Man, you guys are awfully mean-spirited about this.

kyo_tetsuei
kyo_tetsuei

Maybe he should stick to rocket launchers, and scrap the science.

chakan2
chakan2

I guess rocket jumping to the target pad didn't work so well.

Unshaken
Unshaken

at least his games dun suck as bad as his rockets

CooVee
CooVee

Well thank god for that. If that rocket did work it would probably open a gate way to hell somewhere out in space.

styphin
styphin

C'mon, this isn't rocket science. Oh wait.

smithy1185
smithy1185

Yikes, that must be depressing for John.

okassar
okassar

Lol,that sucks.He must have a fun life...making Doom,pursuing rocket science...make us Doom 4!

AA7
AA7

Stick to games John, go back to your PC and make us Doom 4.

AA7
AA7

Stick to games John, go back to your PC and make us Doom 4.