Copenhagen Suborbitals: The Incredible DIY Rocket Scientists on a Mission to Send a Human to Space
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Copenhagen Suborbitals: The Incredible DIY Rocket Scientists on a Mission to Send a Human to Space

January 14, 2020

What we like to do and what we dream
about has been a huge inspiration for people all over the world.
This mission is dangerous. Most of my friends think that this is crazy
and equally inspiring. The goal of Copenhagen Suborbitals is to put a human being in a space capsule, on a rocket, fly him a hundred kilometres up in the air
so that he can come back and tell us what he has seen and experienced with
his own eyes. That is the ultimate ride. Why are you doing this? We get that question a lot… to be honest the best answer I can come up with this why not? We are in the Copenhagen Suborbitals
workshop, on the old abandoned shipyard in Copenhagen. What we do here is we build rockets. We have a collection of stuff that used
to be rockets, some successful some less successful… electronics, huge diesel
engines. We have at least 10 projects going on, but the biggest one is the Nexo II rocket that we will launch this summer. We are starting to build bigger
rockets. We are starting to build a prototype of
our first manned space capsule. Right now, we’re standing outside our main workshop where there’s a lot of activity going on. Today we have what we affectionately
call our ‘GOAB’ — good old British front loader that we use for basically moving
everything heavy about the workshop. 80% of rocketry is actually infrastructure, moving heavy object A from point one to point two.. unpack again. Over here, making a lot of noise, is Sheila. She is currently working on the prototype for the next
generation space capsule. That’s roughly the size of the can where we’re going to
put a person inside and then launch on this 100km suborbital trajectory. Of course, it will have windows and steering and things like that, but you can actually decide do I want to look at
the Stars, or do I want to look at the ground while you are 100km up? This
is a mock-up of our space capsule so we can design where the controls go, matching his mock-up of the chair we fit in here make sure everything fits and we
continued the design down to what life support should that have, where should his bottle of water be if he should have water with him up or if
we’re just gonna make him drink some water before he launches? We need to have
a mock-up so that we can test everything before we put a lot of energy into the
real deal. That is Randy, our crash-test dummy. We
use him in all our launchers where it makes sense to have that person
substitute inside, which so far I think we only managed to kill about two or
three times? He has a very cool attitude about it, as you can see he’s not moving
very much… it’s cool with him. The thing I’m standing right behind here
is a capsule for the the first rocket that we launched way back in 2011. It was
the first make of rocket that we launched. It flew two, three…
four kilometers roughly then unfortunately, because of a manufacturing error, it was flying sideways, so the flight was
terminated. Here’s the 2x rocket engine the that was supposed to have flown in 2014 but due to a mistake in a weld, it failed during a static engine test. 600 litres of alcohol poured out out of the bottom of the rocket in a few
seconds, and of course you were still feeding in liquid oxygen from the top so
the alcohol burned outside the combustion chamber in a big fireball. It
looked worse than it was. You have to go back to the drawing board
and design a new rocket engine that would actually work instead of blowing
up and that’s when we built the Nexo I. It uses liquid oxygen and 75%
ethanol as the fuel. We launched it on the only day of 2016 where the weather in
the Baltic was actually good enough to launch. It was perfect weather, very warm
very humid, which is also most likely why we had a malfunction on a valve. We still
decided to launch it, to be able to get some kind of data out of it. Unfortunately, because of this stuck
valve, the rocket engine ran out of fuel. Then it fell back down to earth. To us it was not
a failure because we’ve got data out of it. Whenever you’re doing a test, if you
don’t get any data out of the test then it’s a failure. But if it blows up and
you get data out of it then it’s not a failure, that’s science. Of course, it delays the process when you have a setback like a
malfunctioning rocket but it just hardens your resolve and makes you work
that extra hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. It’s quite certain that
we are going to have more failures. Even the professionals are failures. It
happens. Rockets are very very complex machines lots and lots of parts that has
to be working perfectly together to perform the required mission. I would be lying if I told you that
everything is just rainbows and unicorns every day because it’s not. The biggest
problem is time and money. If you were to compare the way we operate with NASA or
ESA, some of the big government agencies the comparison is absurd really because
our total annual budget is less than 10% on what NASA spends on coffee for their
employees. It’s a different kind of project because contrary to a normal day
job, everyone here works for free. The project itself survives mainly on
donations and assistance from mostly private persons. They basically believe
in the dream that it is possible to go to space as an amateur organization. The
Nexo I and the Nexo II rockets are actually the two first rockets which
are on a more well-defined roadmap on how to get to space. So I’m standing
right here with the Nexo II rocket, which is this year’s star. We have the entire
engine section down here which is where we get all the power we need to to go to
space. Moving up one section, this is the liquid oxygen tank that’s half our
propellants, the other propellant tank is this one up here… the fuel tank. The
contents of these two tanks, that’s what we mix ,ignite it and then it has this
very interesting chemical reaction that lets us fly. We have to force our
propellants from the tanks into the engines. You can do that with a pump but
we don’t have that. This is where we have the DPR section, which is basically a
high-pressure tank with additional pressurization gas and that gas is then
routed to the two different tanks as the fluid levels drop in those tanks… so
we’re sort of topping up the tanks with gas compensating for the fuel that runs
out the bottom. This rocket here basically is a flying
testbed. It contains all the different systems we’re gonna have on the final
Spica rocket we’re gonna use to really go to space. But we’re testing all
this stuff in a much smaller scale. We don’t need to go to space to check it
and to see if it works we just need to fly a full flight circle
and if we can get that working on Nexo II we’re pretty certain it will also work
on the Spica rocket. Building the actual rocket is only 15 or 20 percent of the
effort that is put into launching the rocket. There’s loads of work that we have had to put in to building launch facilities, support equipment, telemetry control systems, everything around the rocket and
then as we are launching rockets from from sea, we also have our ships that needs
to be maintained. Right now we are on our new mission control ship called
Bolette Munkholm. Our entire operation is based upon the fact that we can
launch from sean, because then like it’s basically too crowded on land we need
quite a large exclusion zone around our ships to make sure that our Rockets
don’t hit anybody else when they’re coming down like fishermen or sail boats
or stuff like that entering the area. Once you see the thing launch your heart
skips a couple of beats at least. There’s nothing quite like it seeing something
you have spent at least a couple of years building the thing off and trying
to reach the sky. It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment which I guess
is also one of the reasons why why we do what we do. My first dream when everybody
asked what do you want to be when you grow up and it was always for me… it was
astronaut. The reason why I want to be an astronaut was because I wanted to feel
the physical changes of physical laws that we have here on earth. When you have
a passion it’s something that is inside of you and that makes you happy and
makes you want to spend endless nights and days for this mission.
We started off two guys in a garage and today we are still in a workshop regular
people having regular day jobs and we are able to build spaceships. Someday the earth will no longer be here, someday mankind will no longer be here and we have to somehow get away from
this planet if we want to survive in the very long run.
Being an ever so small part of that journey is a very fantastic feeling.
Many of us instead of dreaming the dream we now live it and I don’t think we’re
going to stop unless the project goes down or we succeed.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. nothing ameature or diy about this, they have a phd from ea after the guy who murdered the reporter left. For the money and resource they have, this is pretty pathetic.

  2. There is a big market for micro satellites. This company would be much wiser to focus on that stuff than sending a human just barely to the edge of space. Make some money, refine your technology, practice….then send a man out there if you must. If getting someone to the edge of space is a must-do, they would be much better off using a balloon.

  3. you will never get into space, as the escape velocity required is greater than the maximum possible velocity of the rocket engine exhaust gasses. Its a reaction engine, so the rocket cant exceed or even equal the velocity of the exhaust gas.
    the worlds fastest amateur two stage rocket only managed a measly 4,300 kph which is way too slow to ever make it into space. How will you solve this problem?

  4. She wants to "feel physical changes to physical laws we have here on Earth"

    Please Hire me because your grasp of physics sounds weak

  5. These guys remind me of Goddard…Lacked money and the Germans got the jump on rockets big time..same today pvt corporations are already doing sub orbital flight whilst these dottery old buggers will die messing around with their soldering irons and angle iron

  6. What is the Mass Ratio of your last rocket? I'm pushing >2.0, and getting to >4.0 will require a lot more money. They say, "If you can dream it, you can do it", but in reality, you have to convince greedy people with a lot of money that your dream will work and put money in their pockets.

  7. Reminds me of the king in Monty Python's Holy Grail: "The first one, sank into the swamp, The second one caught fire, and sank into the swamp, but the THIRD one… The third one stayed up!"

  8. I would love to be the guy that takes that ride in attempting to hit the barrier that begins defined low earth orbit. really exciting stuff.

  9. I really enjoyed this video, 50% of the enjoyment was due to it being Danish though, Since I'm a fellow Dane myself. Either way, great video, never knew about Copenhagen Suborbitals prior to this.

  10. The whites strike again!

    They must have held some group down in order to be this successful and organized with only education, motivation, culture and work! Someone should investigate this group!

  11. Did anyone notice the "SOHCAHTOA" written on the board to remember trigonometric functions? Its on 6:14

  12. I think that sitting upright in the capsule is big mistake. The G force will insure that the pilot/astronaut will pass out and could even cause permanent brain injury. i.e. oxygen starvation or brain stem compression.

  13. It said : "Someday the Earth will no longer be here… We need to get away from this planet." You should know that Humans spoiled this planet in less than 400 years and should not go and spoil any others. Humans were too dump to take care of what gift they got so too bad. You stay there and you stay with the mess you created.

  14. I have many disruptive inventions, one day i may invent a new type of rocket. Ive got one idea i originally conceived for a long range electric car, but would have to figure out escape velocity.

  15. Absolute credit to you all. You deserve and I truly hope get the financial sponsorship to realise your dreams. .

  16. You Guys are an amazing group of people. There will always be some who can't see the awe and might of what you're doing.
    So go fast, fly high and a safe passage in you're quest for a truely spectacular journey.

  17. Great job, you have done very well, I hope you can put a human being in orbit. Greetings from Chile

  18. The orientation for the passenger upright can only withstand 6 g's of acceleration laying on back can withstand 15 g's. Pretty cool otherwise

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