Danish engineers planning manned space craft

Aug 27, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
Tycho Brahe spacecraft designed and build by Kristian von Bengtson

(PhysOrg.com) -- A couple of Danish engineers are working towards launching a human being into space.

An unmanned carrying a crash-test mannequin will be launched on 31 August by the Danish non-profit Copenhagen Suborbitals, and if successful, a manned suborbital flight could follow soon after. The rocket will be launched from the , from a floating platform towed into position by a mini-submarine, also designed and built by the same group.

The manned craft is known as the HEAT1X-Tycho Brahe after a 16th century aristocrat who identified a supernova. It is a single occupant , and the passenger would stand in the cramped capsule looking out of a plexiglass dome.

The rocket will take the capsule to a suborbital altitude of 30 km and then the booster will separate allowing the capsule to descend, with parachutes slowing its descent to a splashdown in water. On its way up the rocket will break the sound barrier, subjecting the passenger to almost 3-g forces. Movement will be limited to operating a camera, and reaching for an oxygen mask, vomit bag, the exit hatch, and manual override controls for booster separation.

The HEAT1X rocket (for Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter) will carry the one-person capsule. It is basically a 640 mm diameter tube about 10 meters long. It will burn for around 60 seconds and provide 40 kN of thrust. The rocket was successfully tested in May this year.

The Tycho Brahe-1 spacecraft is a pressurized capsule with a polymer plexiglass dome. Having the astronaut stand enabled them to build a smaller diameter . According to the group's website the passenger will wear a pressure suit to control the orthostatic pressure, and their calculations indicate that "g-loads and g-load time will not become a problem."

The designers and builders of the craft, engineers Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, belong to the SomethingAwful web community and hope to show that space travel does not have to be the exclusive domain of groups with access to millions or billions of dollars. Their entire budget was a mere $63,000, all of it in donations and sponsorships, which von Bengtson (who once worked for NASA) said would "barely cover the cost of the key hole on the shuttle."

The Tycho Brahe is one of a series of suborbital craft the group is developing, and their aim is to use these vehicles to "pave the way for manned space flight on a micro size spacecraft."

Madsen and von Bengtson say the mission has a 100% peaceful purpose, and no explosive, nuclear, biological or chemical payloads will be carried.

Explore further: Close encounters: Comet siding spring seen next to mars

More information: copenhagensuborbitals.com/

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User comments : 10

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DaveGee
5 / 5 (7) Aug 27, 2010
Mini-sub, floating launch platform, 10 meter rocket with a plexiglass dome: 63 thousand dollars
Outcome: Priceless

Sorry for having a bit of fun, and I wish the team nothing but success. That being said, I sure hope they're REALLY confidant in their design prior to sending a human hurling towards space.

NASA employs LOTS of people... MOST are highly UNQUALIFIED to advise anyone about on the finer points of rocket construction not to mention launching a maned capsule into space. Think about it, the last time NASA did a manned capsule was in the mid seventies...

I certainly give you all of my best wishes for a safe launch and applaud your intestinal fortitude... It's nice to see the human race hasn't lost that primal desire to discover what lies beyond the visible horizon!
rgwalther
5 / 5 (4) Aug 27, 2010
Very entertaining and resourceful project, but 30km is only about 96,000 feet. This is somewhat lower than the 80km required for a pilot to get USAF 'spaceflight' certification. The SR 71 is listed as 'cruising' at 85,000 feet. Still classified, but leaking, SR 71 performance records put highest altitude at over 100,000 feet. 31.5 km. The X 15 frequently exceeded 50 miles and two X-15 pilots received USAF astronaut wings for exceeding 100km. This Danish makina is impressive but not quite a 'space' craft. I assume that the pilot is not really going to be 'standing up' during a three G acceleration? The Danes do seem to have circumvented NASA's politically mandated, stifling burden of overmanaging and over bureaucratizing everything. Good Luck.
PPihkala
4 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2010
I assume that the pilot is not really going to be 'standing up' during a three G acceleration?

There is a picture of the rocket with dummy inside and there is no room to do anything but to stand in it. Just see yourself. Wearing pressure suit should help prevent losing consciousness.
yyz
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2010
A recent story at Universe Today had additional images of the vehicle (including a closeup of the manned plexiglass nosecone) and a somewhat scary looking video of a recent static fire test of the main engine: http://www.univer...xt-week/

Some commenters voiced doubts about the ultimate success of the mission (and there a comment from a team member), all wished them luck. Same sentiment here. We shall soon see.

"I assume that the pilot is not really going to be 'standing up' during a three G acceleration?"

Yup, it's standing room only.
JES
5 / 5 (4) Aug 27, 2010
This is what I call true Viking spirit! (being Swedish myself) Surely, it looks rather claustrophobic, but what the heck, remember that it was probably the Vikings discovering America in long ships and that must have been a bit of a challenge. Go Denmark go!!
Foundation
5 / 5 (2) Aug 27, 2010
"I assume that the pilot is not really going to be 'standing up' during a three G acceleration?"
The pilot is going to be in some kind of a half seated position, as you can see on the pictures on their website.

http://www.copenh...raft.php

Silverhill
5 / 5 (1) Aug 27, 2010
"[named] Tycho Brahe after a 16th century aristocrat who identified a supernova."

A *little* more information about one of the greatest astronomers would be justified here!
(from the Wikipedia article [ http://en.wikiped...ho_brahe ]):
"Tycho Brahe was a Danish nobleman known for his accurate and comprehensive astronomical and planetary observations. [He] was well known in his lifetime as an astronomer and alchemist."
TechnoCore
not rated yet Aug 27, 2010
Discovery channel had a program about this maybe 2 months ago. It was really interesting. They were methodical and pragmatic. His philosophy was don't try anything risky or try to re-invent the wheel.
RobertKLR
not rated yet Aug 27, 2010
Joe Kittinger jumped from a balloon at over 31km. Copenhagen Suborbital is an overstatement and damn near an exaggeration.
oliver158
not rated yet Aug 28, 2010
The 30km mentioned in the article is a maximum height for this test flight.
I think the manned launch is planned to go to around 150km.