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Firm launches commercial rocket from New Mexico spaceport [Video]

December 7, 2011 |  8:48 am


Commercial space venture Armadillo Aerospace announced a successful launch of a sleek-sounding rocket from the nation's first commercial spaceport in New Mexico.

On Sunday, the Mesquite, Texas-based start-up blasted its STIG A rocket to an altitude of 124,000 feet above Spaceport America in Las Cruces, N.M.

Take a look at the video below as it climbs into space. An on-board camera gives you the opportunity to take a virtual trip to sub-orbit. (Beware: A trip on a rocket as it spirals into space can be dizzying.)

"This successful test of our STIG A reusable suborbital rocket technology represents major progress for the Armadillo Aerospace flight test program," Neil Milburn, company vice president of program management, said in a statement. "The flight successfully demonstrated many of the technologies that we need for our manned suborbital program."

The rocket carried a scientific experiment meant to study the liquid and gas flow process, which is sensitive to the gravity and acceleration levels encountered during spaceflight. It was designed by team of undergraduate students at Purdue University.

"Spaceport America has been an ideal launch facility for this kind of vehicle," John Carmack, Armadillo’s president and chief technology officer, said in statement.

In October, British billionaire Richard Branson’s commercial space venture, Virgin Galactic, moved into a newly completed terminal and hangar facility at Spaceport America. The company aims to launch paying customers beyond Earth’s confines within two years.



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Photo: View of Earth from Armadillo Aerospace's STIG A at 124,000 feet above Spaceport America in New Mexico