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Copenhagen Suborbitals open-source private spacerocket will launch in an hour (raketvenner.dk)
240 points by mixmax on June 3, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments

Every fact you learn about these guys is more audacious and awesome than the last. Not just a rocket, one carrying a life size dummy. Not land, sea on a floating platform they made themselves. Boat? Nope. Giant hand-made submarine. It's the kind of mad, mad, science I dreamed of as a kid.

The story seems like it should end with "they don't always drink beer, but when they do..."

Here's a picture of the rocket and the submarine: http://i2-images2.tv2net.dk/s/49/20942149-29ce372936dd69adf1...

The picture was taken in September last year when the first (failed) attempt to launch the rocket was made.

Here's a picture of the succesful launch today: http://www.bornholmstidende.dk/nonsec/NPIX/2011/6/Launch.jpg

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmGmymAWI4E

Btw., they only used their homemade submarine to tow the rocket platform at the first launch attempt (last September).

This time around they decided to enable the rocket platform to sail on its own: http://politiken.tv/nyheder/videnskab/article1298751.ece

Agreed. These people are absolutely an inspiration and should be on every television station there is; hopefully kids will idolize them.

Please donate, or become a member of the support organization (it,s 20 dollars a month) if you think this is a cool project.

this is a private noncommercial opensource project, and the whole thing is built on donations and people working in their freetime.

Yep, all started by cool guys from Something Awful: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=327...

I totally forgot they were goons. These guys could quite possibly be the first goons in history who actually finished a project.


First attempt the auto-sequence didn't start properly, but on a retry they've achieved liftoff. The screams from the mission control feed gave me goosebumps.

Yes, that was exciting. Parachutes seems to have failed though the payload looks fine. Anyway, great achievement, congratulations!

Yeah, that's unfortunate. Looking at the feed now, it seems that the capsule has 'landed' intact in the sea. It remains to be seen exactly what condition it is in when recovered.

There is something universally awesome about watching people be rewarded for their dedication and audacity. A huge congrats to the ones behind this! (despite a mixed result)

Any idea how high it went?

According to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HueHF9pECI#t=6m

Altitude: 2.8 kilometers

Traveled a total: 8.5 kilometers

There has been successful liftoff and supersonic flight at 16.36 local time.

Congratulations to copenhagen suborbitals.

Thanks for submitting this - it was awesome!

Found this video of one of the Copenhagen Suborbitals guys giving a talk at TEDxCopenhagen:


I love the notion of "I'd rather work with a guy who says 'I don't know anything about it, but let's figure it out'".

That message is amazing, and I've found that has been a huge differentiator between people who are stellar performers vs. people who are mediocre or poor.

Thanks, great find. A lot of really inspiring advice on ignoring conventional wisdom, getting around gatekeepers, and being persistent in one's target.

Thank you for that.

About 6 minutes in, one can see the scale of the rocket as someone is welding on a fin. The launch videos linked above do not properly convey the scale, and I was surprised at how big it actually was.

Inspiring, they've actually done something, on a shoestring, basically hobbyists, that most national governments haven't been able to achieve.

I don't think governments haven't been able to achieve it, they haven't wanted to.

If a hobbyist group built a skyscraper in two months on a shoestring budget and it collapsed after a year, it would be a success.

If a national government funded a skyscraper, spent two months on it, and it collapsed after a year, they'd be a laughing stock.

For a volunteer/hobbyist/amateur/donation group, this is enormously progressive and successful; for a national space agency, it wouldn't be.

Does anybody have a capture of the liftoff for those of us that missed it? :(

Chilling. Thank you :)

Adam from Mythbusters gives it thumbs up: http://ekstrabladet.dk/flash/filmogtv/tv/article1414320.ece (Danish language article)

They're messing with the payload now, which appears to contain a dummy. Is this the platform they're going to send a man to space with?

And there appears to be a point-n-shoot camera mounted to its head.

Yes it is.

For those of us without silverlight: mms://itv02.digizuite.dk/tv2b

VLC can play it but the server is getting hammered right now. Received 503 the first few tries but then it loaded.

The one in the submitted link is the control room, this one is currently footage from the platform. Launch time keeps getting pushed back-- If you're not watching, you haven't missed it yet.

EDIT 10:28 Eastern They're resuming the countdown in 6 minutes and they are go for launch.

What's with the floating platform? The footage looks like it's from a Bond movie.

From their site: http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/launchsite.php

We launch from sea in Denmark, east of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. We like the idea of launching (and landing) on water. If we are able to control this environment we are basically able to launch our rockets from anywhere in the world to any height.

The basic problem that keeps most amateur rocketry projects from reaching high altitude is that of a suitable launch site. Northern Europe is very densely populated, and there are no areas like the Black Rock Desert. Even if we did have deserts here, the regulatory regime of private, amateur spaceflight is Terra Incognito to authorities.

However it has been discovered that outside the national territorial waters - typically 12 nautical miles off the coast - things gets a lot simpler from a legal perspective. In the practical world the open sea also offers a lot of interesting features to us.

Few landmasses on the planet is as empty as the open sea - and as easy to monitor. This makes the whole issue of range safety relatively simple compared to the conditions on land. Most space ports are found on a coastline for the same reason. Finally - operating out of Copenhagen, Denmark - the logistic challenge of launching rockets from Sahara or some place in the Artic is much larger than sailing a couple of hundred nautical miles out to sea.

As a result, in 2009, we decided to commit Copenhagen Suborbitals to sea launch.

You mean the floating platform attached to a submarine?


I hope someone has told the Russians:


Last year they ran into some problems when they called the danish navy and asked 'is it ok with you guys if we tow our 115000 horsepower rocket through danish territorial waters using the largest homebuilt submarine ever built?'

unsurprisingly, the initial answer was that it was not ok. They got it solved though.

There seems to have been some negotiation this year also, due to a conflict with a NATO training exercise. In the end they ended up getting permission for a five-day window, according to this Danish article (Google Translate link): http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&h...

Their submarine is homebuilt, so I doubt it will match any Russian Specs...

Theoretically it should be able to dive to 400 meters though. Pretty impressive for a few guys welding it together themsellves.

Do you have links where one can read more about the submarine?

I just missed it. Is there a replay posted someplace? The linked page is just to the live stream.

aside: why don't any of the "live" video companies offer complete rewind/replay? Why can't I go to the page linked in the OP and watch the whole thing, even though it is no longer "live"?

One of the comments says that it's on youtube. There are a few there, but I'm not sure if one is official - none of them really look like it.

That does seem like a feature that would make a lot of sense for live videos to have. Could be that there are patents preventing them, or something like that, because it would make live videos far more valuable.

I'm not sure there's an official video. The Danish TV station TV 2 filmed the whole thing from their news helicopter, and that is the footage you see on the YouTube link I posted and on http://nyhederne.tv2.dk/article.php/id-40453154:dansk-rumrak... (there's a short commercial before the video that can be closed).

What is the open source part of this? The sketch books on the website? Or is there some software somewhere as well?

I think that a lot of it hasn't been released yet: "We intend to share all our techninal information as much as possible, within the laws of EU-export control. " http://www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/mission.php

That's correct.


This is one of the problems with a sealaunch. Its really hard to get internet connection, much less a broadband connection when youre 30 kilometers from the nearest land.

I understand that's a problem but there's clearly a high-quality stream being broadcast to the people in the room - that we have to watch via a low-quality camera. Can we not just view it directly anywhere?

I mean, if these guys can build a submarine and (hopefully) launch a rocket, I'm pretty sure they can manage a link to a good quality broadcast ;)

Thats the livestream fro a danish broadcaster that has a helicopter in the area. The link is elsewhere in this thread.

Possibly paranoid cynicism, but I'm not sure I'd want to be too close to an amateur rocket test flight in a helicopter...

My apologies, I missed the other link.

Thanks for the reminder - super-duper appreciated :)

That was AWESOME. There is no other word!

Replying to my own comment... even the day after this is still just as awesome :)

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