Saturday, September 25, 2010
A private Danish rocket built by volunteers to launch one person into suborbital space is set to fly its first test flight Tuesday with a dummy pilot riding aboard.This was what the US did with Alan Shepard in 1961. However now it is being done by a small group of Danish enthusiasts as a
If successful, the rocket should carry its payload up almost 19 miles (30 km) into the upper atmosphere.
$70,000 effort funded by private sponsors and donations includes the capsule, booster and an offshore launch platform.Well it didn't launch & has been put back to next year because an of the shelf hair dryer component failed to keep the fuel running. However this is merely a technology glitch & doesn't affect the principle of it being feasible. It does tend to support Jerry Pournelle's assessment
I wish them well, but I wouldn't ride it.Maybe not but I much more wouldn't have joined Scott going to the South Pole.
When I first met Jeana Yaeger (copilot with Dick Rutan of the Voyager on the first non-stop non-refueled flight around the world) she had volunteered to let Captain Robert Truax launch her 70 miles downrange in what amounts to a reinforced garbage can atop one of his sea launched Sea Dragon rockets. Truax was once a major figure in rocket development and a rival of Max Hunter for the mantle of Werner von Braun and this was a serious proposition; it didn't happen largely because other events made it pointless. But Miss Yeager was ready to take the ride.
I wish the Danes well, but I wouldn't ride that rocket...
The thing that gets me is the cost. $70,000 (£45,000) is nothing. It puts funding elements of space development into individual's hands not just governments. It is, after inflation, merely a fraction of the £10,000 the Daily Mail put up in 1906 as a prize for an aircraft to go from London to Manchester.
Even if no European or North American government is willing to put £45,000 towards promoting progress it now seems X-Prizes, albeit at a low level, are almost inevitable. There are a lot of rich individuals donating sums far larger than that. There are even a lot of newspapers paying more than that to girls willing to name some footballer they slept with.
H/t to Freedom & Whisky where I first saw this