Sunday, May 16, 2010

Copenhagen Suborbitals

Copenhagen Suborbitals is a nonprofit group of Danish hobbyists who embarked on the lofty mission to send a human to space. Even more impressive is that the team is a varied group of engineers and hobbyists working on a volunteer basis during their spare time. Their projects are run on a shoestring budget provided by both corporate and private sponsors.

It's easy to write this crew off as a ambitious dreamers that will never get off the ground, but they have the expertise and experience to make their manned spaceflight mission a complete success. Within the past few years they created an 4-8 person functional submarine, the UC3Nautilus, which is capable of diving to 500 meters (about half the depth of the Danish military submarines). The real kicker is that it was created on a razor thin budget of approximately $200,000 USD. In line with the explorer/hobbyist agenda, the UC3 has no torpedo tubes. In their place are small observation windows. The construction group isn't all business and no fun either, the UC3 serves as a primary attraction to the Illutron Collaborative Interactive Art Studio. A snapshot of the team's impressive qualifications as engineers, scientists, designers, and artists can be found here.

So does Copenhagen Suborbitals have what it takes to send a man to space? Well they are way past the paper planning stage. In February 2010 they successfully demonstrated a full-size solid fuel rocket called the HEAT 1X, generating 210,000 horsepower.

By June they plan to use this rocket to launch their own spacecraft named after the Danish astronomer and engineer, Tycho Brahe. This spacecraft will contain a payload for experimentation and return safely to earth. While this summer's launch will be unmanned, the Tycho Brahe spacecraft is designed to accommodate a single person for manned spaceflight. Up in a cold airfield in Denmark this ambitious, dedicated, and talented group of volunteers are well on their way to achieving their dream.