A pair of Danish space enthusiasts are planning to launch a home-made manned rocket more than 100 kilometres into space by 2020. As Jim Drury reports, their company, Copenhagen Suborbitals, runs on a shoestring with the support of volunteers in the hope of boldly going where only publicly-funded organisations have gone before.
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK / AT SEA (REUTERS / COPENHAGEN SUBORBITALS) - A test flight that amateur rocket scientist Kristian von Bengston says takes him one step close to realising his dream.
His company Copenhagen Suborbitals is working on a shoestring to put a human into space by 2020.
"This body here is actually capable of taking the scaled-down capsule to 112 kilometres - that's actually in Space and it's going to provide us with a great test of atmospheric re-entry, capsulesystems, and communications, so we're very excited about that."
With a small army of around 20 part-time volunteers they build all their space gear themselves, funding it with private donations.
"This is the top part of the full-scale capsule. It's actually the rescue session. It's going to hold all the main parachutes."
The DIY space duo have already enjoyed success. Two years ago they launched their Tycho Brahesolid-and-liquid-fuel rocket 2.8 kilometres into the air before the engine shut off.
And then, last year, their HEAT-1X became the first amateur rocket to fly with a full-size crash test dummy, performing a successful Main Engine Cut-Off.
Unlike orbital trajectory, suborbital flight involves a u-shaped journey, from earth into space and back again, splashing down into the sea.
By the time a safe human mission can be contemplated, the firm will have been working almost daily on preparing it for 15 years. The flight itself will take just 15 minutes, only five minutes of which will be spent in space.
Yet Von Bengtson and co-creator Peter Madsen say it's worth all the effort.
"It's actually showing people that human space flight can be done in a completely different level from what we're used to. Everybody believes that Space flight , manned Space flight, can only be done with billions of dollars and it has to be government financed. I hope that we can show that you can do it on a shoestring budget. You can pretty much do it yourself."
Von Bengtson says that by funding it themselves, Copenhagen Suborbitals' achievement will rewrite the rules of space travel.
And even if they never get into space themselves, the amateur rocket scientists say they're having a blast.