Sunday, September 19, 2010

Denmark aims for the stars.

           Do you know that Denmark is exploring the possibility of launching a manned mission to space? Yes. And interestingly the effort does not come from the government, but from a private group of space enthusiasts. We wish them all the best.

          And here is another bit of surprise relating to this project. The trial unmanned flight was to take off last week. But it had to be scrubbed. The reason?  Hard to believe, but it was hair dryer which was the culprit preventing the launch!

, a well known space website, reports that on Sunday (September 12), the maiden launch of a private-built Danish rocket was cancelled because of a snag in the powerless hair dryer which was part of the rocket.

          According to the website, it was the first launch of the Tycho Brahe space capsule which can accommodate a single crew member. The capsule has been so designed that the astronaut can get a full view during the ride. The flight plan envisaged the rocket zooming into an altitude of 30 kms into the upper atmosphere. While descending, a drogue parachute and three main parachutes would be activated and carry the capsule back for recovery in the sea.

         The capsule was placed atop the Hybrid Exo Atmospheric Transporter-1X or HEAT-1X and literally all was a `go' for launch. Excitement and tension built up, until the snag in the hair dryer was detected and the mission was called off to the disappointment of many, particularly Peter Madsen and Kristan von Bengston of Copenhagen Suborbitals, a non profit organisation, which is handling this challenging space programme. They have expressed confidence that their flight would succeed at a later date.
 says that the problem was noticed when a liquid oxygen valve in the rocket got stuck after a hair dryer lost electric power. This in turn exposed the valve to icy temperatures near the Danish island of Bornholm--the launch site--causing difficulties which resulted in the mission being scrubbed. The ultimate aim of the programme was to launch a human into space.

          If someday, their plan materialises and Denmark does succeed in putting a man in space, it would become the fourth nation to join the exclusive club of countries having a human spaceflight programme--the other three being the US, Russia and China. Wake up India! 

          Madsen's home made submarine christened ``Nautilius'' had towed the floating platform to its launch site. The ``Nautilius'' engine supplied power for the for the hair dryer which was to keep the liquid oxygen valve from freezing. But, the submarine's engine was shut down for the launch. Then, a brief delay in the lift off may have led to the problem, speculates

          The two are not novices in the rocket business because von Bengston is by profession an aerospace engineer who has worked with Nasa on the moon and Mars programmes. Both he and Madsen gathered 19 space buffs who supported them.

          Apart from aiming for a manned mission, the maiden flight would have allowed the Danish team to test among other things offshore launch concepts, high speed aerodynamic properties of the vehicle, engine performance and recovery scenarios, according to

           So in the not-too-distant-future do not be surprised if you hear a Danish guy is orbiting the earth.


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