Private Danish Rocket Aims for Sunday Launch
The Tycho Brahe capsule sits atop the Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter (HEAT) 1X booster in preparation for an off-shore launch. The Nautilus submarine is docked in the foreground.
Credit: Copenhagen Suborbitals

Editor's Note: This story was updated Friday to reflect the latest launch time.

A private Danish rocket built by volunteers to launch one person into suborbital space is now slated to launch no earlier than Sunday with a dummy pilot riding aboard.

If successful, the rocket ? built by the group Copenhagen Suborbitals ? should carry its payload up almost 19 miles (30 km) into the upper atmosphere. The project could pave the way for Denmark to eventually become the fourth space-faring nation to send humans into space after Russia, the United States and China.

There is a 70 percent chance of the launch occurring Sunday near the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea on Saturday, according to the website of Copenhagen Suborbitals. The test flight has a launch window that runs through Sept. 17.

The new suborbital rocket is called the Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter 1X, or HEAT-1X. It carries a Tycho Brahe space capsule, which can hold one pilot in a half-standing, half-sitting posture. 

But the rocket will just carry a dummy for the first several suborbital flights to see how much G-force a human would endure. One G is equivalent to Earth's standard gravity.

"We get three Gs half-sitting, half-standing," said Peter Madsen, cofounder of Copenahgen Suborbitals. "Higher G loads may occur during re-entry, but here the capsule is oriented in a sidewards position where the astronaut has excellent G tolerance."

The $70,000 effort funded by private sponsors and donations includes the capsule, booster and an offshore launch platform.

Madsen's homemade submarine from a past project, called the Nautilus, has the duty of towing the floating platform to a designated launch site in the Baltic Sea near Copenhagen, Denmark. [10 Private Spaceships Becoming Reality]

During the Tycho Brahe capsule's descent, a drogue parachute and three main parachutes should deploy and carry it back down for recovery in the water by a fast boat.

Tracking radar and GPS should also help the ground team keep an eye on the launch and return.

Making it all work

Madsen decided to kick-start the private rocket venture when he met Kristian von Bengtson, an aerospace engineer who has worked with NASA on Mars and lunar programs. They gathered a small group of about 19 supporting team members.

"We get a lot of support ? and have access to experts that would be very expensive if we were commercial," Madsen told SPACE.com. "I honestly don't think we can afford to be commercial."

The Tycho Brahe capsule draws inspiration from the NASA space capsules of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs, von Bengtson wrote in an e-mail. But he also aimed to simplify the overall design.

Liquid oxygen serves as the oxidizer part of the propellant, and polyurethane acts as the rocket fuel propellant. That allows the HEAT-1X booster to burn for 60 seconds and create almost 9,000 pounds of thrust (40 kN).

The inaugural flight should allow the Danish team to test the offshore launch concept, the high-speed aerodynamic properties of the vehicle, engine performance and recovery scenarios. Wireless telemetry gives real-time updates on the booster during burns.

Read the rest of the original story here.