We often see on television various programs about space and the universe, and many of us would like to go there. But is it possible to build a spaceship at home? With your own hands?
Depending on what you mean by the words “home-made”, “spaceship”, you can build a spaceship to send into space costing from $ 500 to $ 2.5 billion. I understand that this is not very useful information for budget planning, so let me clarify what you get for your money. I’ll better first explain what you can create and then what you can not.
First of all, let’s deal with the terms. I think that by the word “homemade” you mean that you can build it in your workshop. Where space flight is concerned, the possibilities are always quite limited.
Now, what do we mean by the word “space”? Usually, we think about a distance of up to 100 kilometers or about 62 miles. This is the so-called Kármán line. I will tell you more about this below.
And finally, the spaceship. If we restrict ourselves to a capsule, then our article will turn out to be too short. Instead, let’s define the word “ship” as a payload — basically everything we can lift into the air.
With this in mind, let’s look at the capabilities of the ship.
Firstly, the orbital flight of man into space. I am talking about this in order to establish conditional borders, since this was never carried out by non-state bodies, and only three countries were able to make such flights: USSR, USA, and China. It is not cheap. For example, $ 1.7 billion was spent on the construction of the shuttle Endeavor, plus hundreds of more millions on missions.
The private sector offers two more economical space flight options. One of them is orbital flight without people on board. Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, boasts that it can put a satellite into orbit for $ 54 million. Another option is a suborbital space flight with a man on board, an X-15-like rocket built by aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Its cost is $ 28 million.
Now pay attention to the Baltic and Mediterranean parts of the Earth, about stratospheric flights. The means of such flights is a weather balloon, not a rocket. The highest load you can get is approximately 20-25 miles (32-40 km), with the exception of a predetermined space. Given that the cost of such equipment does not exceed $ 1000, the difference is quite noticeable. In 2010, two lovers, one from Brooklyn, the other from the UK, assembled such devices from cheap tools (a guy from Brooklyn used a mini video camera and an iPhone with a GPS tracking application). As a result, after a little digging into Google, you can easily find photos and videos detailing the curvature of the Earth, a thin layer of the atmosphere, and beyond it the blackness of space.
Nevertheless, perhaps you are thinking:
We have one last opportunity: suborbital instrument flight. Kai Michaelson, the head of the Civilian Space Xploration Team (CSXT), said that their group is the only one who recently conducted amateur operations to launch a rocket into space.
In 2004, they launched a 21-foot home-made rocket that flew up to 72 miles (116 km) and returned. The total flight time, which was certified by the Federal Civil Aviation Administration, slightly exceeded 14 minutes. The total cost, including previous failed attempts, was approximately $ 350,000.
Perhaps you could break this record, but I will not do it for several reasons. The next frontier for amateur rocket science is orbital flight, the highest point of achievement in technical and regulatory plans, and there is practically no chance that the authorities will allow amateurs to launch flaming bombs over populated areas.
I don’t really believe in the prospect of space travel in general – it’s too complicated. Of course, NASA wants to transfer its space transportation business to private companies, and there is a high probability that this will happen. Many commercial satellites will appear, temporary space probes, perhaps even once a mission to Mars. And I will always be bored billionaires ready to finance the “last venture into the unknown.” But, I doubt that space tourism, flights to the moon, and similar things that are accessible to the average layman, will someday be widespread.