The cheapest and simplest human spacecraft

by | Mar 3, 2010 12:00 PM ET

A friend sent me a link to this web site...

...and the first thing you see is a very direct mission statement:

Our mission is very simple. We are working towards launching a human being into space.

Obviously they are not the only people who are doing this. Virgin Galactic and a host of other companies are trying to accomplish the same thing. The difference is that Copenhagen Suborbitals doesn't have millions of corporate dollars behind it. Instead, it is powered by volunteers and donations, so it is trying to get the job done with the cheapest possible spacecraft.

They seem to be making progress. For example, here is a recent engine test. The claim is that the engine generates 3,000 newtons (the ultimate goal is 40,000 newtons):


The Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter or HEAT, is a real scale rocket with a 608 mm diameter tube that will function as the final test rocket and carrier of the one person spacecraft. The oxydizer for the HATV will be liquid oxygen (LOX). The HEAT booster will finally serve as the transportation vehicle for the man rated spacecraft.
The HEAT booster will burn for about 60 seconds, providing 40kN of thrust, resulting in less than 3-g making the trip feasible for humans to endure.

40,000 newtons = about 9,000 pounds of thrust

It is a hybrid rocket engine using a solid propellant and liquid oxygen.

They are currently working on two projects:

Two rocket vehicles are under development. A small unmanned sounding rocket, named Hybrid Atmospheric Test Vehicle or HATV and a larger booster rocket named Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter or HEAT, designed to carry a micro spacecraft into a suborbital trajectory in space.

And other people should be able to learn from them:

We intend to share all our techninal information as much as possible, within the laws of EU-export control.

There are many photos and videos on the site showing their progress:


It is when you get to this page that you understand the approach, and the kind of budget they are working with. This is the absolute minimum vehicle that could get someone into orbit:


See also:

- The Xcor Lynx space ship

- One step closer to space tourism

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