Hacking Space Without Profit Or Secrecy

Reader [Jacob] tipped us off about a project the aims to make the final frontier open source. The mission of the Copenhagen Suborbitals is to launch a man into space. What they’re not interested in is turning a profit, carrying hazmat or weapons, or keeping what they learn to themselves.

Surprisingly enough, isn’t this the next logical step after hobbyists send cameras into space? This team thinks so and they’ve been hard at work building and testing rockets. With the last round of successful tests behind them, they’ve paved the way for a launch of the first round of the campaign on June first. Da duh daaaah da duh duh da daaaaa

46 thoughts on “Hacking Space Without Profit Or Secrecy

  1. hmmm, a fair bit of info, comparatively, but not really open source; not to knock the project, we certainly do need stuff like this to make space more accessible for researchers.

  2. Step 1: go into space
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: Profit
    Step 4: Find a way to land safely

    This does seem cool though. This would give the hacking community a chance to test their designs in true absolute zero conditions which may increase performance for some designs. Once we’re in space we can build our OWN station and instead of HAD we could have hack-a-space :P

  3. Looks like dangerous.
    As far I saw, many of this hobbyist space project explode in first minutes. Remember Planetary society’s Cosmos 1?
    And now put human in there?

  4. @Alex: Cosmos 1 wasn’t a hobbyist launch system, it used an old Soviet intercontinental ballistic missile launched from a submarine. The fact that it was old and being shoe-horned into a role it wasn’t designed for could, very well, have been the reason for the failure. That said, it, certainly, is possible for rockets to fail. That is why they have multiple full-sized prototype rockets planned for launch before they try a human payload. Is it a risk? Yes, but developing a new aircraft/spacecraft is always a risk no matter who does it.

  5. I hadn’t considered the liability, you are right on that one. As for the speed, when things are reasonably well funded they are faster than if you have to beg or use your own money. I have been on both sides.

  6. @Brian Aday
    I don’t think there are many non-research reasons to send small stuff into space, if that’s what you were asking about profit (only example that comes to mind is satellites, which I think would be too big for this?).

  7. @Alan

    I don’t see how non-profit is easier. If you’re trying to turn a profit, it’s much easier to attract investors, who normally want a return on their investment.

  8. Like other open source projects of similiar fashion, like the e-Cars-now project, I predict they will be a mile short and a year late by the end of it, not having accomplished much anything while the commercial sector has turned up with the solutions and will be driving the whole thing to irrelevance, if they already haven’t.

    Sure, with an open source solution, everyone could do it, like everyone can theoretically re-program the Linux kernel, but very few will have the resources to do it and even fewer are interested because they have nothing to gain from it. Open source doesn’t easily turn into profit, and without profits, there is no resources.

    The whole issue of going to space is to make it economically sound. Otherwise it’s just a curiosity with no real value for anyone. If it costs more to get up there than you gain from being there, what’s the point?

  9. Well, if you put a value on the experience of being in space, then it’s just a matter of :

    How much would you spend to go into space and how many others would pay the same price?

    @googfan – I’ll ride shotgun. I’m a big guy, so if we’re stranded and I die, you’ll at least have plenty of food :)

  10. I mean – if scientific advancement is what this is about, then we already have the solutions. We already have costly rockets that we use to put stuff into orbit for research purposes.

    Just ask NASA. Or even better, since NASA is a publicly funded organization, why not make the information public?

    Thing is, we don’t need to re-invent the wheel. We need a better wheel.

  11. @Einomies are you serious? The general public does not have access to that kind of technology, thusly we do need to reinvent the wheel until we get access to it. If you want anything bad enough, you don’t take no for an answer.

    They say you get no wheel; we’ll make one from scratch :P.

  12. @Clinton Evan of New York.”We intend to share all our techninal information as much as possible, within the laws of EU-export control.” Open Source.

    It is fairly abitious as a project, and the bit I look forward to seeing is when they load the monkey when they bring out the straws for first flight selection.

  13. Alan: The point is, what then?

    Even if you did have access to the technology, what would you do with it? You think governments are going to allow you to launch off from your back yard? Do you think you’ll be able to build it in the first place?

    It’s like building your own cellphone. It makes no sense even if you could.

  14. There are plenty of diffrent sponsors. I don’t think they all care about profit it could bring them in the end. What could Street Surfing possibly profit from going into space.

    oh Sparkfun is a sponsor too :P

  15. @Einomies: And yet some folks ARE building their own cell phones. http://www.opencellphone.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

    More to the point, of course the individual is not going to build a launch a rocket in their backyard. But when groups of people with skills and interests are given access to information and technology there is ample room for innovation, improvement, and re-direction of these technologies. Basically, the more people working on a problem, the faster/better/cheaper the solution.

  16. @Einomies Quote”Even if you did have access to the technology, what would you do with it? You think governments are going to allow you to launch off from your back yard? Do you think you’ll be able to build it in the first place?”

    With respect, I suggest you look at the following website which detail how you can build one and launch it.


    I’d be real surprised if the EASA does not have rules for this as well.
    also of interest:



  17. So does this mean that HaD readers will have the know-how to go into space in the not too distant future? I vote the trolls form the testing party for these new, untested rockets & shuttles.

    As a side note, HaD better buy rights to HackALunarDay.com and HackAStardate.com before someone else gets ’em.

  18. “The point is, what then? Even if you did have access to the technology, what would you do with it?”

    There was a time when people said the same thing about computers, you realize. Big companies and the government had them, what would an individual possibly do with their own computer?

    Not to say that one day we will all have our own personal rockets, but the fact is that technology should be accessible to all people, not just the groups with the deepest pockets. Just because we don’t see the immediate advantage of this work doesn’t mean there isn’t one down the line.

  19. @ms3fgx: thank you for that comparison, i feel you just closed this debate. personally i find this exciting, though any real hope for accessibility would be a little premature.

  20. From the videos on the site, it seems like the booster they are testing is not producing a very stable, long-lasting, or coherent thrust.

    Perhaps this is just from their testing conditions, however, the engine as it is shown wouldn’t put anything into space.

    I do agree, however, that the recent hiring of private firms for US space travel as well as this open-source space shot is progress.

  21. im not afraid of dying by blowing up or falling several miles to the ground, i think i would survive it because i have had plenty of opportunities to die, but it just doesnt happen.
    i would take the 6 month journey to mars, or the short trip to the moon, but i don’t think i would fare too well without canned, carbonated, caffeinated beverages. send me to mars with a pop-up greenhouse, a shitload of mountain dew & pepsi or something, some seeds..
    the co2 released every time i crack one open helps the plants, and if it gets out of containment, i slowly warm mars with my greenhouse gases. the massive amount of dew would weigh too much for space travel..
    i would like to colonize mars though. greenhouse necessary, but also necessary.. an extremely high gain directional wifi antenna. lol
    let’s hear your ideas on how to network mars.
    not thinking data-relay satellites.
    something like lasers, but more like a shotgun so you don’t have to aim..

  22. @M4CGYV3R

    “From the videos on the site, it seems like the booster they are testing is not producing a very stable, long-lasting, or coherent thrust.”

    The HEAT-1X only uses half the LOX of the final version, that is why the thrust gets unstable about half way through.

  23. hey the NASA.gov exploits posted at pinoysecurity might help in getting some of those “secret” infos that may be useful somehow to this project. just be careful though if you know what i mean … ;)

  24. “There was a time when people said the same thing about computers, you realize. Big companies and the government had them, what would an individual possibly do with their own computer?”

    Yes, and what did the people do with the computers? You even had kit computers with full schematics, but were they useful in any way?

    Nothing, and no. All the information was there, the technology was available, but it just wasn’t feasible for the layman to make any use of it. Then some guy in a garage built an Apple, set up a company around it, and all the kit computers quickly faded into obscurity.

    The difference has always been that the Open Source movement is working post-hoc. They’re not the pioneers, they reverse-engineer and copy something that exists and something they want. Everyone else is already miles ahead. That’s why by the time they’re done figuring it out, nobody needs the information anymore.

  25. @jeditalian

    I think relay satellites would actually be the best bet. Set up a few hundred in geosynchronous orbit around mars and instead of using lasers use xrays since they have a shorter wavelength. More data is transmitted at a faster pace because instead of —___—___ it’s -_-_-_-_ so I think at current tech that’s the best way of networking mars. I do know that there’s a roughly 8 minute delay for radio transmissions so if you could deal with that you’d be fine. Perhaps have a few megaservers on mars that sync up with predetermined places on earth on a schedule. Something like googlesync :P

  26. it would also be really cool if they could load up a giant spool of wire, launch the rocket, drop off the spool somewhere between the earth and the moon, letting it unroll falling to earth, and drag the other end to the moon. doesnt have to be wire, they could start out with anything as long as its strong enough.. lol this is something dumb i use to think of when i was very young.. water hose to the moon..
    especially when you read something like all the aluminum cans produced in a year could circle the earth so many times.
    it would be cool, yet hazardous.. like if you had a giant steel cable dangling from the moon, taking out buildings and aircraft and cars..
    anyway i think that would be the first step to a real space-elevator. impractical, dangerous, earth’s natural resource-depleting, cool thing to do. i just wonder, if it were actually feasible , would it be good for sending electricity to the moon(or would it be like running too long of a cat5 and getting shitty transfer speeds), would it end lightning on one quarter, eighth, half or all of earth, if grounded to the earth and the moon? if left ungrounded at earth’s end,(since that would be the best way to prevent the moon from wrapping around earth and smashing into it) would it become a death ray because it is the new path of least resistance for the lightning that would otherwise be striking randomly..?
    and that is why we should or should not, dangle a giant cable from the moon to the earth.
    although i’m all for the giant dangling cable that is continuously electrostaticdischarging what would have otherwise become lightning, with which we can burn things, go blind, harvest ozone, or power a giant ionic-lifter, among other things :D

  27. Copenhagen Suborbitals stuff looks good. I hope they continue to make progress. I’m reminded of another group who’s work I used to follow, the Reaction Research Society in southern California. They’ve published a number of liquid and hybrid designs over the years, but it doesn’t seem that any of their current projects are quite as ambitious as CS: http://www.rrs.org/main/

  28. I’m curious how many terrorist organizations will apply for open source “experimental” rocketry. They too would probably freely disseminate their findings.

    It’s not really fair, but I think there are a lot of subjects that necessitate closed control.

  29. I dunno. One of the things that bugs be about the “open source movement” is its claim to newness. Amateur Rocketry (even at the scale that this project has reached (so far)) has involved a lot of sharing of information for a long time (pretty much only the recent contests (like X-prize) have resulted in any secrecy at all.) And shared software pre-dates personal computers… So I don’t know if there is much new here other than attaching a trendy label to a new field.

    Not that what they’re doing isn’t good stuff, mind you…

  30. I’m all for Copenhagen Suborbitals and all nongovernmental space initiatives [except terror as Agent420 points out]. But I agree with Brian Aday and others who ask: What’s wrong with profit? It works.

    I am very green and environmental and don’t like toxic fuels and hazardous materials. And I am very anti-weapons in space whether wielded by government, military or terrorists. There is enough war on Earth. We don’t need star wars, SDI or interstellar war. Keep space green and peaceful.

    I am starting a space company and it will have proprietary intellectual property. Anyone who cares to be on the ground floor before the Wall Street types arrive and buy us out (like Northrup Grummann did with Rutan’s company Scaled Composites) is welcome to contact me:

    Box 4436, Rock Hill SC 29732 USA

    I’m very serious.

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