Danish makers aim to DIY a person into space


When it launches for a sub-orbital jaunt into the heavens on Aug. 31, the Danish-built HEAT1X-TYCHO BRAHE will carry a crash-test dummy. Eventually, though, the team behind the rocket—all volunteers, and led by Something Awful forum members—hope to put an in-real-life person inside.

"Eventually", in this case, means 4-to-10 years. But, frankly, this project has already achieved amazing levels of awesomeness. Using money from donations and corporate sponsorships, the group, called Copenhagen Suborbitals, has already built a floating launch pad in the Baltic Sea and a submarine (for towing materials to said floating launchpad).

Then there's these fabulous quotes they keep giving the Danish press. God bless Google Translate.

"There can roughly be three things: We can get a crash, we can fly supersonic or we can not shoot because of weather. If it becomes a crash, we hope it becomes a spectacular crash," said [team co-leader] Peter Madsen.

Madsen, there, by the way, is also apparently the guy who, if all goes well, will one day become the first Dane in space.

"Our mission is the smallest space mission, you can make - just straight up and say I've been in space," said Peter Madsen, who more than happy to take the chance. "I always say we must all die. I think many would be ready to take the risk of getting into space, "he said.

It probably helps his confidence that partner Kristian von Bengtson has a degree in aerospace science.

I just noticed that this was recommended on Submitterator as well. I didn't find it there, but I'll give shout-outs to Chesterfield, anyway.

Wired Science: Danish Volunteers Build Manned Spacecraft

Politiken: Danes will fire rocket from Bornholm in about 10 days (Translated)

Official Web site of Copenhagen Suborbitals—including lots of good test videos, photographs and documentation


    1. @ Anon #1:

      Wasn’t this at the end of Gravity’s Rainbow?

      From a brief read of the articles it sounds like this project has too much publicity and not nearly enough Nazi bondage gear to really make it comparable.

  1. I’m all in favor of private spaceflight, but that looks like suicide to me.

    Among other things, it doesn’t look like it could possibly provide enough insulation to protect a Dane-o-naut from the temperature extremes of space.

    I’ll catch the Space X bus, thanks.

    1. It’s actually called rocket science for reason, not “lets make arguments from thin air”. First, it’s a suborbital flight which will take only a few minutes. You don’t need any heating for such a small time. Secondly, there’s no real difference (in temperature) between flying at 20-30km and at >100km. Actually, since the pressure is lower at 100km, temperature should fall even slower during those few minutes. Thirdly, they ciykd even have a small heater which you wouldn’t see in those photo.

      The point is, you don’t know even the basics, so don’t use the lack of information as an argument. Sure, this project is dangerous, but for completely different reasons.

  2. … So tempted to troll and say “They named it after that guy who writes penny arcade?”

    You have no idea how much restraint it takes to not edit this down to just that quoted section.

  3. This is why I don’t care about NASA cuts… we’re going OURSELVES! For that matter – replicating the feats of the Apollo program today (due to the fact that the technology that was pioneered back then can – literally – be bought for a few dollars, and is far more powerful now than it was back in the 1960’s) is comparatively easy. The expensive part today is the large infrastructure used to handle the rocket parts, and manage the fuel; and that should only cost several millions of dollars to put together (the fact that aerospace companies and NASA do spend billions on stuff doesn’t mean that it has to cost billions – it’s the $1000-toilet-seat-effect at work). For that matter, I’ve personally been on construction sites that were more complex, more expensive, and physically larger than that required for a moon rocket… and nobody considers them out-of-the-ordanary.

    1. replicating the feats of the Apollo program today … is comparatively easy

      It would be nice if that were true, but unfortunately it’s not.

      You cannot change the laws of physics. The Rocket Equation tells us that with current rocket engines, sub-orbital lobs (like this) are moderately easy while orbit and beyond (like Apollo) is very very hard.

      No relevant new rocket engines have been developed in the last half a century, and at least one design has been shelved (Orion drive). Ion drives are new, but they’re not suitable for getting to orbit or even the moon — though they’d make a Mars mission much easier.

      So, to replicate the feats of Apollo, you’d also have to engineer around the near-impossible physics, like Apollo. You might be able to improve slightly on it with new materials and so on, but not by much. You might or might not be able to do it any cheaper.

      Or, of course, you go for a suborbital lob and pretend it’s the same.

      1. I’m sorry, but now I have to do this:

        Ye cannae change the laws of physics
        Laws of physics
        Laws of physics
        Ye cannae change the laws of physics
        Laws of physics, Jim

    1. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      To be serious, I’ve been watching these guys for a long time. They built a fully functional submarine for their last little project and now they’ve stepped it up just a bit in their bid for private manned space flight with donations and some pocket change. Pretty damned impressive, even for a bunch of goons. Many goons tend toward intelligent, but damn!

  4. If your gonna send me into space I’d like a little more room than a coffin sized tube. I’m sure the view would be great but you went all the way into space don’t you wanna be able to wiggle around in the zero G’s a little bit? It’s like driving all the way to Disney World and then staying in your car the whole time with your seat belt on.

  5. Can somebody tell me…. Why a submarine? Why not just a boat?

    Or is that how we are all supposed to know that it is obviously a joke.

    1. This, as well as the submarine, are absolutely real and serious. The sub was first(there were actually a handful, each a larger design than the last). The rocket is just the next step in a “can we do this?” progression.

  6. There are a lot of things that the goons at Something Awful are good at, but rocket science ain’t necessarily one of them. If safety were no object, then the US could have sent someone up a decade ahead of the Russkies–as with climbing Mount Everest, it doesn’t count if you don’t make it back down.

  7. I don’t know if this is on the level or not, but I would certainly applaud anyone with the bravery to ride in this thing.

    However, aside from my raging claustrophobia, my big concern about this vehicle is that the presumably upright occupant might black out during high acceleration.

    1. #12,

      “I would certainly applaud anyone with the bravery to ride in this thing.”

      Yes, they are braver than I thought.

  8. Hello,

    There is a spelling error in the article. “Cophenhagen” is spelled “Copenhagen”.

    jonasbn, from Copenhagen

  9. Looks like the Acme Corporation and Wile E. Coyote finally found the venture capital funding of their dreams. A sure sign of an economic turnaround folks! And a delight for children, adults and psychotic OCD coyotes who are on the hunt for that seemingly uncatchable Road Runner. Three cheers for our new golden age.

    Seriously, this idea seems like some case study waiting to happen. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark!

  10. Ven der rockets go up, who cares vere dey come down? Dat’s not my department, says Werner von Braun

  11. Come on guys. Why hater these inventors? If guys like these – that you can place anywhere on between mad and genious – we would never see any giant technological leaps.
    How many got killed when tried building an airplane +100 years ago? Some people like to play bowling, others like to build their own submarine or space shuttle…
    I am so looking forward to see if my fellow countrymen will make it next week.

  12. Okay, being fired at high speed in space while confined in a metallic coffin ?

    I think I’ve found my nightmare for the next week. Thanks a lot, BB.

  13. I can’t believe anyone would have problems with this – it’s exactly the kind of crazy-brave stunt that, say, discovered the way across the Atlantic. And the Pacific. And drove the Lewis and Clark expedition across America.

    I would so volunteer to work with this crew, if I lived in Europe. I have friends working at NASA, and heard how wrapped up in bureaucracy, political ideology, and waste the Ares / Orion project was wrapped up in. A gonzo engineering project to put a man in space sounds #$%^ awesome, and like something out of a Heinlein novel.

  14. 4Gs while standing up? ISTM that being passed out would take all the joy of five minutes of being weightless in a coffin.

  15. Anon #6 FTW–I was stumped for a proper Tycho reference–with special mention to the Gravity’s Rainbow love in #1 and #7.

  16. Keep in mind that they’re launching a dummy this time – they’ll presumably notice the more obvious forms of passenger killing potential.

  17. Shh, don’t tell the health and safety crew (I’ve a feeling I’ve said this before, more than once!)

    Also, Can I have a go.

  18. I can’t help, when I read “Danish makers”, but picture some misguided pastry chefs with delusions of aeronautical grandeur.

  19. They should follow the lead set by other spacefaring nations and send up an animal first.

    I recommend a Great Dane.

  20. Ballistic rocket with a person inside! I think mankind could do technological things more elegant and safer than this.

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