On June 23, Copenhagen Suborbital successfully launched their guided rocket Sapphire.  “A very intense moment,” wrote Copenhagen Suborbitals co-founder Kristian von Bengtson. “What we saw was nothing less than a perfect flight.”

While the flight was perfect, the landing wasn’t, quite. Due to a calculation problem, the signal to release the main parachute was never sent, leaving Sapphire to crash in the ocean, where it still remains.

Nevertheless, the test was a milestone in the quest of von Bengston and co-founder Peter Madsen to launch themselves into space on a rocket built by themselves. Active guidance is a prerequisite for human spaceflight, and Sapphire was only 60 meters off the mark using inertial measurement units (IMUs) for navigation and jetvanes for control. As von Bengtson wrote at the end of his account of the day: “In short – there is no stopping Copenhagen Suborbitals for going into space now!”

The next phase of testing will involve a larger liquid oxygen and ethanol propelled rocket, the HEAT 2X. The first HEAT 2X test is scheduled for June 21, 2014

Copenhagen Suborbitals just released a complete documentary of the momentous event. Watch below:


About the author

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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