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Sun, Oct 26, 2008

Copenhagen Suborbitals Developing One-Man Spacecraft

Privately-Funded Danish Group Successfully Tests Booster Rocket

A privately-funded suborbital space endeavor took another step toward its goal to launch a one-manned spacecraft into space with the October 19 test-firing of a hybrid rocket booster engine.

Copenhagen Suborbitals is currently developing a series of suborbital space vehicles designed to validate and test performance, paving the way for manned space flight on a micro-size spacecraft, or MSC. "The mission has a 100% peaceful purpose and is not in any way involved in carrying explosive, nuclear, biological and chemical payloads," the CS website states. "We intend to share all our technical information as much as possible, within the laws of EU-export control."

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.

Both boosters systems will be hybrid rockets using epoxy as solid propellant.

The HATV is a 1/3 scale rocket with a 200 mm diameter tube that will function as a basic flight test model. The oxidizer for the HATV will be nitrous oxide. This rocket is currently being constructed, and the hold-down booster is undergoing pre-launch testing.

The HATV booster is set to be launched from southern Norway.

The HEAT is a real-scale rocket with a 630 mm diameter tube that will function as the final test rocket. The oxidizer for the HEAT will be liquid oxygen (LOX).

The HEAT booster will burn for about 60 seconds, providing 40kN of thrust and resulting in less than 3-g, making the trip feasible for humans to endure.

Currently, the HEAT booster is set to be launched from Iceland. "We have established contact the Icelandic Government and are trying to find the best spot for launch and recovery."

The HEAT booster will serve as the transportation vehicle for the MSC, a pressurized capsule providing support for one upright standing/half-sitting person. A polymer Plexiglas-dome provides a full view to experience the entire ballistic ride.

"Based on the expected flight data and future test-flights, g-force loads and rocket orientation, we will determine the seating construction and necessary support to ensure safe human travel."

Before the spacecraft goes into a zero gravity parabola, the booster system will be jettisoned. After a while of atmospheric re-entry, the spacecraft will be slowed by two episodes of deployed parachutes. Finally, the spacecraft will touchdown on land.

It will not be possible for the astronaut to move around inside the MSC. Only the arms will be free "to operate a few (backup) systems like grabbing on to handles or a vomit bag, as well as additional oxygen mask and the MSC abort system, if necessary after touchdown."

While strapped in, the head may be able to slightly turn sideways to provide a wider outlook, and the astronaut will be equipped with a small emergency parachute which will be fitted into the seating system.

The MSC will be required to have a simple environmental control and life support system, to support the astronaut for the flight and an additional 24 hours. To control the orthostatic pressure, a pressure suit will be used.

The avionics system of the MSC will be flight controller systems or trajectory calculation devices, either guiding the rocket or providing ground personnel with a position to assist with the pick up of the astronaut and jettisoned booster.

"We don't use any attitude controllers or mechanical guidance on our boosters. The system is very basic and will rely completely on the laws of aerodynamics."

FMI: www.copenhagensuborbitals.com/index.php

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