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11 April 2012Copenhagen reaches for the skies

Two young Danish graduates are developing a rocket to fly into space – and doing it themselves, with funds coming from private donations and sponsors and with equipment donated by companies.

They have built their first rocket, the Tycho Brahe, and fired it successfully last summer – operating from a sea launch platform which they also built themselves.

The Tycho Brahe was built by hand over a three-year period. It weighs 300 kilograms and is powered by their own HEAT 1-X engine, which uses liquid oxygen with polyurethane.

Their sea launch platform, called Sputnik, was also built by them. It’s a steel catamaran with a central launch tower, designed for stability. A sea launch simplifies operations, and the Danish Navy are giving them occasional access to military test areas of sea.

On last year’s test, the Tycho Brahe rose to 2 kilometres in a 2-minute flight, and was then recovered successfully from the sea. This summer they have a series of firings planned, and a new and more powerful engine, the TM65, using liquid oxygen and alcohol for fuel, and generating the equivalent of around 200,000 hp.

They work in a storage building at a disused shipyard in Copenhagen. The areas round about provide them with enough space to test their rocket engines.

"We have no administration or technical boards to approve our work, so we move very fast from idea to construction," they say. "Everything we build is tested until we believe it will do. Then we (attempt to) fly it!"

They are doing everything open source, as they want their work to inspire as many people as possible, and the website of their company, Copenhagen Suborbitals, expressly states: 'Absolutely No Rights Reserved'.

Their motto: 'Less talk and more production' and 'Low cost creates low tech solutions, low tech solution creates high safety.'

One of them, Kristian von Bengtson, spoke some months ago about their approach.

 

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