Space Commerce

FAA Gives Armadillo Operator Launch License

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 26, 2012
Filed under ,
FAA Gives Armadillo Operator Launch License

At Newspace 2012 hosted by the Space Frontier Foundation in Santa Clara CA, Dr. George Nield, Associate Administrator for the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, presented Neil Milburn, Armadillo Aerospace’s VP of Program Management, with an Operator Launch License for their STIG (Suborbital Transport with Inertial Guidance) class of reusable suborbital launch vehicles.
This is Armadillo Aerospace’s first launch license although they have already received three launch permits for their lunar lander class vehicles.

“The Operator Launch License enables Armadillo Aerospace to launch payloads for revenue service” said Milburn. “The inaugural flight of STIG B scheduled for this summer is carrying two revenue payloads, one for Vega Space and the other for the University of Purdue, and, if successful, this will qualify the STIG vehicles for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.” The inaugural flight is slated to take the payloads to greater than 100-km (62-miles) which is classified as the boundary for space. In doing so it will enable the payload providers to experience nearly three minutes of micro-G environment.

The launch will take place from Spaceport America in New Mexico and will be the first licensed launch from the Spaceport although Armadillo Aerospace has launched four earlier flights under the FAA’s Class III waiver regime. The last of these flights with STIG A reached 95-km setting the stage for the space capable STIG B vehicles.

Milburn complimented Dr. Nield on AST’s performance in processing the license application. “Allowed 180-days by law, the review team at AST granted the license in just 63-days, setting a new record” said Milburn. “This successfully exemplifies AST’s dual role of ensuring public safety but at the same time promoting the commercial launch industry.”

Armadillo Aerospace LLC is a privately owned company founded by computer gaming industry icon John Carmack and his wife Anna. They are dedicated to providing low cost access to space for both scientific payloads and space tourists.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.