Today, there is currently only one initiative developing crewed launch capabilities in Europe. It’s not ESA, CNES, or a private startup. It’s a moonshot venture from a group of enthusiasts working in their spare time, funded by donations. Their north star: develop a single-person suborbital vehicle.
The scrappy underdogs
Founded in 2011, Denmark-based Copenhagen Suborbitals bills itself as the world’s only crewed amateur spaceflight program. To date, the non-profit has launched 7 rockets and test capsules from a floating launch site in the Baltic Sea. The group is now working on Spica, its most ambitious project to date. Status update:
- A test article of the capsule is being developed
- Construction of the propellant tanks is complete
- Work on the first the 100kN BPM-100 engine began recently
- A test stand to static fire the engine is nearing completion
Still to come: Once complete, Spica aims to launch one intrepid volunteer—and itself—into the annals of space history, alongside Gagarin and Shepard.