Amateur space program of the day
May 31st, 2018
Today I learned of the existence of Copenhagen Suborbitals, the "world's only manned, amateur space program". From their website:
Since 2011, we’ve built and flown 5 homebuilt rockets and space capsules from a ship in the Baltic Sea, and some day one of us will fly into space. It’s all crowdfunded and nonprofit, and has only come this far because people all over the world donate money that pay the materials, tools and rent. Our goal is simple: To fly an amateur astronaut into space and safely back. It’s a unique dream and we can’t think of a more fun and exciting project. When Edmund Hillary was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest he replied: "Because it’s there".Space is defined by the Kármán line at 100 km above Earth, so the plan is to fly a space capsule with our astronaut straight up to just over that altitude, from where it free fall straight back and land by parachute in the sea. Copenhagen Suborbitals is the only space organisation that launches rockets from a sailing platform in international waters, since it’s virtually impossible to get permission to do it from the ground in any country.
I love that this exists. It's a little insane—it seems like the sort of project dreamt up over a few too many beers, one friend saying "Wouldn't it be so cool if we made a rocket?" followed with the response: "Well, why not?".
Who knows if this one specifically will work. That's almost besides the point (though I'm certainly rooting for them!). What I like about it is that they took a challenge that's an idiom for something impossibly hard (Copenhagen Suborbitals is literally doing rocket science) and decided to see just how possible it was. I'd love to see more small groups of people take it upon themselves to try things that everyone assumes to be impossible. Much of the time the pessimistic consensus is right, but every once in a while you get a lot further than anyone expected. And even if it doesn't succeed it sure makes a great story!
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