Monday, August 23, 2010

The Engineer's Dream Lives: Copenhagen Suborbitals

Look at this picture.  What do you see?  I see a rocket, a water launch pad and a submarine.  Obviously, the submarine is towing a rocket and launch pad out to sea for liftoff.  Who would be undertaking this endeavor?  North Korea?  Iran?  Some other sovereign nation?  Maybe a company?  A large defense contractor somewhere in the world?

The answer is none of the above...all of what you see has been 100% built by hobbyests.  While you and I tinker with our cars in the garage, or add on to our houses, these guys were building a freaking space rocket.

Oh, and that submarine?  They built that too...that was last year's project...and its been to the bottom of the sea off the coast of Sweden quite a few times...they named it "The Nautilus" ofcourse...

It really is impossible not to be impressed by what engineers, on their own, with no management, company or government backing can do.  A typical defense contractor would probably charge billions to make all this...they built this test rocket with $70k.

In 6 days they will be launching a test dummy into suborbital space, hopefully a human in 3 years...the same feat Burt Rutan pulled off a couple of years ago...Keep in mind, Rutan's Scaled Composites is a company, which has received significant funding from the US gov that enabled it to exist in the first place.

These guys work in a shed.  On their own time.  Why?  Because they freaking can!

A lesson all too lost in today's companies where powerpoint engineering is the rule, and actually doing, or making something, anything is deemed too big a risk.

These guys are an inspiration to engineers everywhere.  Will the rocket blow up?  Scrub launch?  Ditch in the ocean?  Be 100% successful? We'll find out in about 6 days...stay tuned...

More info on Copenhagen Suborbitals here.

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