Jun 072011

Sending a man to outer space in a homebuilt spacecraft worth US$70,000 may seem like a crazy idea to most of us, but not for a Danish group of enthusiasts who call themselves Copenhagen Suborbitals.

Their shoestring-budget single-person flying bullet might have come one step closer to an actual manned flight, thanks to a partially successful test flight last Friday (June 3).

The amateur space engineers prepared everything just as if it was going to be a real flight to space, apart from the passenger, which actually was a crash-test dummy. The rocket HEAT 1-X was launched from a floating ramp called “Sputnik” on the Baltic Sea, carrying a single-person standing capsule known as Tycho Brache (named after a Danish astronomer).

All went as planned, apart from the fact that the parachute was torn apart due to air drag and didn’t fully open. It was meant to slow down the spacecraft’s return, so as it turned out, HEAT 1-X ended up splashing down to the water after just a few minutes of flight.

Maximum altitude achieved during the test flight is estimated at 2.8 km (1.74 miles), which is far less than the Suborbitals team planned (around 15 km/9.32 miles). For comparison, the Kármán line, commonly referred to as the border of outer space, lies at an altitude of 100 km (62 miles).

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