Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Well, I never! DIY Space Rockets!

I remember travelling by train in England along a route which I'd normally driven. The difference was marked - you see the countryside and town from a startlingly different angle. It's not as blatant as the wow-factor in flying over your hometown for the first time, I know.

I experienced something comparable, though, while doing a little background research for this Chapters book-signing event (see last post). Looking into the many and varied efforts people are putting into private space travel ventures is like old-style barn dancing - who will be your partner next time around? And the next? I looked again at SpaceX on Wikipedia (bless their cyber-socks) and clicked on a link that said 'private spaceflight'. Way down the bottom of that page under the exciting 'External Links' section I found two intriguing companies called 'Starchaser Industries' and 'Astrobotic'. Who could resist finding out about names like that? Starchaser is building its own rocket to launch two people up to 100,000 feet - that's about 30 km - not quite 'real' space which is 100 km, but still impressive. Here's what it looks like:
Thunderbirds Are GO!
And they're recruiting astronauts to fil the navigator's seat! Need I mention that it's based in the UK, in Cheshire to be exact, where they make such good cheese.

Sadly, Astrobotic's page didn't load. Oh - wait a sec - I tried again and here's a picture of one of their planetary exploration rovers.
Anyway, you get the idea. I spent a few other web crawls finding out about the advantages of orbital tethers, LEO refuelling depots, the Outer Space Treaty of 1951 and its ramifications for private space investors, and the Mars Society. It's all out there. Isn't it wonderful that so many people are taking the initiative? My favourite of the week is the Danish engineer who is building Denmark's first manned space program in his (rather large) garage, along with some buddies. They're called Copenhagen Suborbitals. Look!

Shiny rocket cones! I like! This is the liquid oxygen tank.
I'll be adding a whole list of similar links after the book signing. See you then.

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