Amateur-Built Spacecraft Ready To Launch

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A Danish team of space enthusiasts has built a rocket that they hope will carry humans into suborbital space, and they plan to launch it on Monday, Aug. 30, with a test dummy. If all goes well, they will launch again soon with an astronaut on board to experience parabolic flight to the edge of space, about 62 miles above the surface of the Earth. The "micro-size" minimalist single-place spacecraft will launch on top of a booster rocket from a launch tower in the Baltic Sea. As the booster uses up its fuel, it will be jettisoned, and the capsule will continue to ascend and achieve zero-g as it reaches its apogee, then descend beneath a trio of parachutes for a water landing. The goal, the team leaders say, is to provide access to space for adventure tourism as well as commercial and scientific purposes.

The leaders of Copenhagen Suborbitals bring plenty of skills to the project -- Peter Madsen previously built his own submarine, and Kristian von Bengtson formerly worked for NASA. They have financed the non-profit endeavor with private donations and the help of volunteers. They say the mission has a "100-percent peaceful purpose" and will not carry any kind of weapons. They intend to share all their technical information as much as they can, within the laws of export control.