Friday, September 10, 2010

Space Vikings: Danish Duo Preps for Suborbital Flight

Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen will know victorious elation or anguished, crushing defeat. The two are vying to get one step closer to becoming the fourth group in history to put a human into orbit -- the other three groups have been the space programs of the United States, Russia and China.

While the pair hopes that their launch window stays open, their countdown will be filled with the kind of high-stakes anxiety unknown to people outside of national space programs. Every minute until the last will be filled with furious tinkering, checking and rechecking systems under a dark specter of self-doubt.
The Danish built amateur rocket Tycho Brahe leaves Copenhagen Harbor towards the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea on August 31, 2010 for a test launch, escorted by a submarine also built by Copenhagen Suborbital.
Jens Norgaard Larsen, Scanpix / AFP / Getty Images
The amateur rocket built by Danish group Copenhagen Suborbitals leaves Copenhagen Harbor on Tuesday for the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea for a test launch.

Right now, the team's engineers and designers are methodically thinking through each element of the design and execution of their homemade suborbital rocket, the Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter -- dubbed HEAT-1X.

Now completed and ready for launch, the HEAT-1X was the brainchild of Madsen and former NASA architect von Bengtson. They are the founders of the Danish nonprofit company Copenhagen Suborbitals, which aims to safely launch a human being into space in microsized craft.

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