Photo credit: dimitris petridis

Do it Yourself Rocket

Do you want to fly around the Earth in a space orbit? Are you lacking the 20 million Euro the Russian Space agency requires to take you into orbit? Do you have a yard full of metal, plexiglass, cables, and other strange technical objects? Why not built your own rocket capable of carrying a human into space?


A Danish team, lead by Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, did exactly that. They asked sponsors for money and found hundreds of volunteers to help realise one of humankind’s oldest dreams – a flight into space. Madson is well known for extraordinary private technology developments. In 2009 he built the world’s largest private submarine, the UC3 Nautilus.

Their goal is not a financial one. Madsen and von Bengtson are interested in developing high-tech transport on a small scale with as little governmental support (and restrictions) as possible. All technical details are open access and downloadable for free via their company website.

However, their high tech designs are often made from low tech materials. Madsen and von Bengtson rode their bicycles to supermarkets and hardware stores to get their rocket parts. They use eight layers of cork as thermal protection and a common hair dryer to protect valves from freezing.

A NASA shuttle starts at about $390 million, the DIY Danish rocket was built for less than 50,000 Euro.

“Maybe the rocket will turn around 44 times or explode on the launch pad. Then we will have an extraordinary crash,” said Madsen. The rocket will carry a crash-test dummy rather than an astronaut on its first flight. It will launch from a floating platform, which will be towed by Madson’s Nautilus submarine into the Baltic Sea near the small Danish island of Bornholm. The test flight hopes to reach an altitude of 30 kilometres and the final flight aims at an altitude of 150 kilometres.

The first flight of HEAT-1X-Tycho Brahe is scheduled for Saturday, 4th of September 2010 (weather permitting).

Featured image credit: dimitris petridis via

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Simon Schneider
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