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Open Source Outer Space

Anyone with enough brains and balls can build their own rocket and fly it to space. Or at least that’s what the nonprofit, open-source space-project Copenhagen Suborbitals wants the world to realize.

Last September, we scuttled out to Denmark to meet the pioneers behind this new wave in do-it-yourself space exploration to find out how these backyard space rockets are made. Founded in 2008 by Kristian von Bengston and Peter Madsen, Copenhagen Suborbitals is now comprised of a coterie of 20-plus specialists determined to create the first homemade, manned spacecraft to go into suborbital flight.

If successful—a manned launch is projected for sometime in the next few years—Denmark would be the fourth country in the world, after China, to successfully launch a manned rocket into space. What’s exceptional about such a feat, if completed, will be Kristian and Peter's ability to do so on a shoestring budget of a few hundreds of thousands of dollars, versus the tens of millions of dollars it costs government-funded agencies and the rising tide of private companies like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, or Bigelow.


Testing of Launch Escape System and its Tycho Deep Space capsule with crash-test dummy Randy on board. (Credit: Thomas Pedersen/Copenhagen Suborbitals.)

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