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Guide to Backyard Space Projects

Updated on July 8, 2014

Backyard Space Projects

We will feature your space car (as long as it can get off the ground), your space hobby (as long as it can get off the ground), your space sport (as long as you get off the ground), in fact anything you are doing at home that gets off the ground and toward orbit can get a plug or story or kudos here.

Backyard Space Projects

True backyard space projects would be homebuilt flying saucers and personal spaceships. If you want to tell us about your project, then we are happy to listen. We are interested in :

ad hoc space projects

amateur space projects

citizen space projects

civilian space projects

club space projects

community space projects

DIY space projects - do-it-yourself

experimental space projects

family space projects

hobbyist space projects

home space projects

independent space projects

individual space projects

NGO space projects - non governmental organization, nonprofit, third sector

other space projects - in case there are any categories we haven't thought of

"people's" space projects

personal space projects

private space projects

retiree space projects - generally retirees from NASA or aerospace companies

space colonization group (SCG) space projects - There is actually a registry for these.

student space projects

Third World space projects

underground space projects

volunteer space projects

This lens does not cover commercial space projects, government space projects or military space projects. Go to my Guide to Space Tourism if interested in what corporations are doing in space.

Homebuilt DIY Flying Saucer (Economy Model) Concept

free energy devices, et cetera

the problem with flying saucers

That they may be hostile aliens?

Besides that.

The problem with flying saucers is that no one we know is building one. Not frisbees thrown into the air and then PhotoShopped to hoax gullible people. No, we're talking about the kind that you can travel in and an alternative to messy rockets. You know, anti-gravity, free energy, zero point, weird science, fringe science, cutting edge, exotic propulsion (not boring stuff like ion rockets and antimatter), and interplanetary travel -- if not interstellar travel. Or, best of all, intergalactic travel. That is a flying saucer.

The ancient Chinese had rockets. Why are we still using rockets? Why haven't we moved on to more advanced things? [Probably for the same reason that we haven't moved on to diagnostics that do not involve X-rays and harmful radiation -- lack of imagination]

Actually, I did know of one manufacturer with an interest in building flying saucer-shaped aircraft but at the time I thought he was a crank. Makes you wonder how many inventors get discouraged and give up when even people like me are so negative.

The military has had flying saucer-shaped experimental aircraft but the real point here is to build craft that can operate outside the atmosphere.

The vessel above is a saucer-shaped submarine which cannot fly -- much less go into space.



build your own flying saucer

Editor's Note -- Good luck with this. I have never heard of anyone who succeeded in building a full scale craft that carried people. Lots of unimpressive scale models though. And considering some of the sources, I'd ignore the conspiracy theories and non-technical matters.

How to Make Flying Saucer

Editor's Note -- Yet another scale model but you might learn something and then figure out how to scale up to human-sized. Warning: This video will try your patience but stick with it. Is it trick photography or does it actually work? Let me know if you get it to work.

no, World War III has not begun - look at the capsule on top

Their fire insurance is going to go sky high (one way or another) when they light this Roman candle. Normally, the only buildings close to a launch pad are the gantry, launch tower, and blockhouse. This looks like a patio at the base of this baby.

it doesn't have to be a rocket

any spaceship will do

but yes, rockets are still popular

so are other designs

so are other designs
so are other designs

Rocket Racers - NASCAR meets Star Wars

like planes

tail pipe

another plane

in flight

remember, if your space car, space hobby or space sports project does not get off the ground, then what's it all for?

not just for guys, - you gals could get DKNY ( D onna K aran N ew Y ork) to be your sponsor

amazing how they look like experimental airplanes - no one suspects that with a little juice, they could head for low orbit

work hard on your backyard space project - and take pride in your work

don't forget to work on the interior - (creature comforts like padding or thick carpet)

Knobs and switches that sitck out can gouge an eye or rip skin during maneuvers, airbraking, decelerations and other jolts. Recess those controls!

editor's note

This is the most frustrating lens to try to maintain! When I uploaded the links it was three times (3X) as long and with annotations. A system glitch erased two-thirds of the links (I had not backed it up at that point) and those other links are gone forever. To make matters worse, the descriptions were also lost. I was so bummed out that I abandoned this lens and neglected my others as well for several months.

On July 21st, 2011, I tried to repair the damage and the system actually kicked out those repairs. Maybe it is Firefox. Maybe it is Squidoo. But it is not my computer because I switched computers. I just thought visitors to this lens might want to know what non-NASA types have to go through to do even little things.

If you see something missing from this lens, please email me or leave a comment at the bottom. I need feedback to enlarge and improve this lens. Thank you!

original "Backyard Space Projects" link list

Danish astronauts trained 6 g in the Tivoli Vertigo.

ad hoc space projects

The Coalition for Space Exploration and the The FastForward Study Group are not the best examples. Can you think of better examples?

amateur space projects

An example is the amateur rocket turbopump project by a 17 year old Romanian who got half his funding from ARCA.

Another example is the Portuguese Amateur Space Project Camões

Ham radio buffs have been extremely busy putting up small satellites.

BB3 SL16

Big amateur rocket launch in Alberta

civilian space projects

NASA is supposed to be a civilian space agency but has always been dominated by the military and always unwilling to let actual non-government civilians into space. If you are not a Congressman or Senator, then forget it. The first space tourist Dennis Tito was a former scientist of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and even he had to shell out millions to the Russians to go up to orbit since NASA has a policy of not allowing anyone who is not a bureaucrat into space. Even the actual definition of the word "astronaut" means current NASA employee. That is why paying passengers are always referred to as "space tourists" rather than astronauts. So much for being a taxpayer or a voter.

Prospace is a citizen space lobby that confines itself to begging Congress not to hurt civilian space efforts (like your backyard space project for example). They are good people but it's the truth. They lack the clout of say the NRA that makes Senators and House Representatives shake in their shoes or the insurance industry that left President Obama out to twist in the wind when he thought he had their support in health care reform or the military contractors who can do anything they want. The point is that money talks. The NRA has a membership with a huge war chest. [Oh that environmental groups had such organization or we might have clean air and clean lakes and no climate change and therefore lower insurance premiums because of less weather damage.] Ultimately, space and environment issues are one and the same because they both deal with planets and life support. Give ProSpace a call or a face to face visit at their offices and tell them to support backyard space projects. They might ask you to write them a very big check . . . .

The National Space Society is just cheerleaders for NASA. The very first thing they did when they merged with the L5 Society was to throw out the L5 officers. NSS just wanted their membership list.

Which brings us to Scaled Composites. Northrup Grumman bought Scaled to get access to their composite manufacturing capabilities, and more importantly, to their Department of Defense revenue stream. It's all noses to the military aircraft grindstone after Space Ship Two.

All is not gloom and doom.

The X Prize Foundation all by itself turned the whole category of "civilian space projects" from a joke (NASA) into tangible progress not confined to a slow-moving government agency.

Amateur Rocketeers and Beautiful Space

For the full show notes, links and awesome stuffs check out our wiki page at

citizen space projects

The SpaceCollective and the 62 Mile Club may be examples of wannabe citizen astronauts.

I'm on record as saying that the transhumanist, mutant and "enhancement" stuff of The Space Collective gives me the willies. NASA has already sent robots into space. How about humans for a change? I will spare you the technical terms of the evolutionary biology and sociobiology and memetics and other philosophical debates but it has to do with whether humans change the environment out there to suit themselves (terraforming) or we let ourselves be changed to suit space (become Borg or worse -- become robots). Will we be enslaved by a master race of mutants? Or will we see these jerks as trying to turn themselves into obsolete gadgets who still have the nerd and geek sense of inadequacy or they would not be implanting chips in themselves to begin with? Last time I checked, Bill Gates is a quite happy family man doing charity work and has no chips in his body.

An even simpler way of looking at it is Megatrends author John Naisbitt's idea of high tech versus high touch. Speaking of which, I thought the 62 Mile Club referred to having sex in orbit.

an actual civilian who went to space

actual civilian hardware in flight

This was built by Scaled Composites. It is the mothership for Space Ship One.

civilian rocket test stand - during static test

Fired Up: Burning liquid oxygen and kerosene, the main engine of XCOR’s Lynx shoots flames during a test last March in the Mojave Desert. Courtesy Mike Massee/XCOR

space club projects

Of these only the R&D and rocketry clubs actually bend metal (or composites or other materiel). The rest just talk, never do anything, and eventually fade away.

I am picking two to unfairly represent all space clubs. Please note that I said unfair because from one space club to another space club is like going from night to day. You are not just comparing apples and oranges but starfruit and moonfruit. [By the way, there actually is starfruit: the fruit of the carambola tree. And moonfruit can be found at -- ]

The Mars Club - Association of Mars Explorers

An "association for explorers of Mars or the Mars-analog environments on Earth." Their last Dinner was April 27, 2010 in League City, Texas. On April 5th, 2011, Baruch Bloomberg passed away. Barry was a founding member of the Association of Mars Explorers. He had a Nobel Prize in virology.

The PI Club - Peregrinus Interstellar is more active on Facebook than at their site --

That latter site has not been updated since 2009.

another picture of the same space club

They toured NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

one of these people is with a space club

April Kelly of Kent Island High School, Maryland and David Harding, a National Space Club Scholar.

Most of the people who visit or are resident scholars are students from universities.

another visitor

So it is really impressive when a visitor is from a high school rather than a university. This young man is Daniel Shi, a National Space Club Scholar from River Hill High School, Maryland.

if you do start a space club . . .

A space club can be started in minutes. Keeping it going is another matter. I suggest that rather than using all your energy designing a fancy logo, that you immediately devote all your energy to building a space ship or spacecraft.

The people using this logo obviously kept it simple.

community space projects - photo of assembly in desert of the community rocket

asseembly in desert of the community rocket
asseembly in desert of the community rocket

Community space projects? Yeh right. They don't exist.

That's what I said before coming across this bunch. The Washington-state based Community Space Program' s full-scale, 30-foot-tall, 700-pound Honest John at Black Rock in 2004.

On the international world level, The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was established in 1958 (shortly after the launch of Sputnik ) as an ad hoc committee. In 1959, it was formally established by United Nations resolution 1472 (XIV). Therefore, it is no longer ad hoc but a regular program of the UN.

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is an organization of the General Assembly charged with implementing the Assembly's outer space-related policies. It is located in the United Nations Office in Vienna. The Office implements the Program on Space Applications and maintains the Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space. The Office also provides support to developing nations in using space technology for economic development.

On the national level, nearly every country has at least a duty officer responsible for liaison with Intelsat and other international space organizations. Most countries have a space office and about half the nations on Earth have a full-fledged space agency like the Russian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japanese Space Agency, and America's space agency NASA. In addition, the USA once had a space office in every cabinet department. For example, the US Department of Commerce has a space office, the US Department of Transportation has a space office, and the US Department of Defense once had US Space Command i(separate from NORAD). The other cabinet departments are slackers. The USDA never really had a space agriculture effort despite the need for agri-sats to monitor crops and microgravity research on seeds. Department of Energy only really cared about supporting the military's SDI Star Wars effort and not power sats or solar sats. And the US Department of Health has no institute for space medicine at the NIH. That may have been farmed out to the National Space Biomedical Research Institute of which Baylor, Rice and NASA are affiliated. Department of Homeland Security has spy sats. In case you wondered how to cure the national debt and deficit and looming default, simply cut the budget for all those satellites that do eavesdropping and surveillance of taxpayers. It is 90% of the waste.

On the state level, it may surprise you to know that states active in space commercialization belong to the Aerospace States Association. But this is trivial as it is mostly aviation. The really serious states have spaceports with tenants like the New Mexico Spaceport and the Mojave Spaceport in California.

So this is a very long-winded way of saying that if nations and states are in the space race, then cities and even communities can jump in too.

community members pose with their baby

this is what they call high-powered rocketry

no one hurt because it was unmanned - and they were in the desert

Nothing and no one to hit out there. Some projects test out over water for the same reason. The nation also has ranges set aside for test flights that the government will sometimes give permits to use.

If this one had a parachute or other recovery system, I don't think it deployed.

DIY space projects


There are good articles in Make Magazine.

On the internet, search for this gem -- "DIY Space Roundup:"

Map the Chemical Composition of the Moon

DIY Ion Engine

Space Rock Hounds

Lunar Lander Simulator

Zillionaires in Space

DIY Inflatable Home Planetarium

Five Cool Participatory Space Projects

Saturday Morning Science in Space

Cash Prizes for Space Scientists

Space Science Gadgets You Can Make for NASA

Androids at 28,000 Feet

Live From Outer Space!

Spaceport Sheboygan

Backyard Astrophotography Page 68

MAKE Volume 24: Space

Do-It-Yourself space projects

DreamSpace and the da Vinci Project
DreamSpace and the da Vinci Project

The da Vinci Project, led by Brian Feeney of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was founded in 1996 and registered as a contender for the International X PRIZE on June 2, 2000. This Canadian project was an example of the DIY attitude.

Experimental Permits for Reusable Suborbital Rockets - quote from FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation,

"The aim of the proposed rule is to expedite research and development on the vehicles intended to carry passengers on suborbital flights. To help facilitate testing of those vehicles, the allowable processing time for making a determination on a permit is reduced by law to 120 days compared to 180 days for a license.

An applicant for a permit must provide four things: (1) a program description; (2) a flight test plan; (3) operational safety documentation, including a hazard analysis; and (4) a plan for responding to a mishap.

Once issued, an experimental permit will cover multiple launch vehicles of a particular design and allow unlimited launches. The FAA will identify the type of design changes that may be made to a launch vehicle without invalidating the permit.

No person may operate a reusable suborbital rocket under a permit for carrying any property or human being for compensation or hire. The one-year permit is renewable following an FAA review.

The rules also prescribe the criteria for the physical area in which a launch vehicle with an experimental permit can operate. Among other things, the area has to be large enough to contain any planned trajectory and cannot contain or be adjacent to a densely populated area."

X-15 Rocket plane

The North American X-15 rocket-powered aircraft/spaceplane was part of the X-series of experimental aircraft, initiated with the Bell X-1, that were made for the USAF, NASA, and the USN. The X-15 set speed and altitude records in the early 1960s, reaching the edge of outer space and returning with valuable data used in aircraft and spacecraft design. It currently holds the official world record for the fastest speed ever reached by a manned rocket powered aircraft.

Black Sky The Race for Space pt1

The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks. It was modeled after early 20th-century aviation prizes, and aimed to spur development of low-cost spaceflight.

Created in May 1996 and initially called just the "X Prize", it was renamed the "Ansari X Prize" on May 6, 2004 following a multi-million dollar donation from entrepreneurs Anousheh Ansari and Amir Ansari.

The prize was won on October 4, 2004, the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik 1 launch, by the Tier One project designed by Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, using the experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne. $10 million was awarded to the winner.

experimental rockets

Troubadour at the Daily Kos says: “In Part 1: Rockets, we took a tour of some of the major rockets in operation today around the world, and now in Part 2 we take a look at some of the experimental rocket systems currently under development that have obvious potential.  As in the first diary, these are images of real hardware only - I will not waste my time with viewgraph fantasies and CGI videos that are the sole output of most self-described space firms.”

The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation issued the first ever experimental permit for a reusable suborbital rocket. This type of permit was first authorized by the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. This first permit went to Blue Origin, LLC September 25th, 2006. The vehicle to be tested will be unmanned and will be launched and landed vertically during tests. This is a one-year, renewable permit, allowing unlimited launches, and is intended to allow launch vehicle developers to flight test their design.

Blue Origin is headquartered out of Seattle WA and intends flight operations out of the Corn Ranch spread near Van Horn TX. Blue Origin is backed by money and therefore is as well-funded as was and is Scaled Composites.

Blue Origin again

Blue Origin's New Shepard

It has actually done test flights as you can see here.

nongovernmental space projects

The World Space Foundation was one of the first NGO's to build its own satellites and space probes and space experiments.

However, few (if any) NGO's have ability to launch other than with sounding rockets or bumming a ride piggybacking with a JPL Big Science probe. The Planetary Society painstakingly constructed a probe only to see it destroyed when the usually reliable Russians used an antiquated rocket that failed. Unlike communications satellites, these payloads do not come off an assembly line and even if they had space insurance, they would still have to build a replacement from scratch.

Perhaps they need their own space launch ability.

independent space projects

JP Aerospace is an independent space program staffed by volunteers dedicated to bringing space travel to everyone.

JP Aerospace again

Along with rockets, planes, and saucers, we should add balloons to the list of ways to get to orbit. It works for these folks.

personal space travel

The new firm Space Medicine Associates, Inc. is "dedicated to the health and safety of the personal space traveler".

Dr. Jim Logan was the second physician accepted into NASA's residency training program in Aerospace Medicine. Board certified in Aerospace Medicine, he became the first graduate of the residency program to be hired by NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

private space projects

examples are:

C&SPACE of South Korea

Starchaser Industries of the UK

Space Services, Inc. of the USA

family space projects

Not every family is as rich as the Ansari family but other families can dream too.

the Stern siblings

volunteer space projects

Not just space projects from Tennessee, this one is Copenhagen Suborbitals from Denmark. They plan to man-rate their open-source rockets once they have completed tests. They have already sent up dummies. One presumes the crash test kind.


If you thought the Mercury capsules were small, Bob Truax of Truax Engineering was going to put his astronaut in an even tighter capsule. Copenhagen Suborbitals apparently has heard that old NASA astronaut complaint about being "spam in a can" except that this is more like sardines.

TEDxCopenhagen - Kristian von Bengtson - Danes in space

Copenhagen Suborbitals are working on sending human beings into space. They recently built the world's first amateur built rocket for manned space travel.

SEDS : - students for the exploration and development of space

SEDS is an independent, student-based organization which promotes the exploration and development of space.

SEDS believes in a space-faring civilization and that focusing the enthusiasm of young people is the key to our future in space.

EDS-USA is happy to announce the SEDS 2011 High-Powered Rocketry Competition, a new inter-chapter challenge. The goal of this competition is to design, construct, and launch a high-powered rocket carrying a 4 kilogram payload to a height of 3050 meters (10,000 feet) above ground level, as measured by a standard altimeter. The competition end date is October 9th, 2011. The winning chapter will be announced at SpaceVision 2011.

Competing Chapters (Last Updated: 4/14/2011)

University of Buffalo

Purdue University

Arizona State University

Illinois Space Society (UIUC)

Harvard University

Rules are found at --

ARIANE-1 Student Near-Space Balloon Launch- HD footage

ARIANE-1 (Amateur Research In A Near-space Environment) was launched on Friday, November 19th in southern Arizona.

We are a group of students from the University of Arizona.

The capsule traveled to an altitude of over 100,000 feet, carrying its payload of a Contour video camera GPS tracker, and cell phone.

Thanks to the companies who generously sponsored our project, the total budget for this launch was $135.

A detailed launch report and photos of the retrieval are available at

underground space projects

Usually these never get past rumor. Back in the day before the government started licensing rocket launches, government was terrified of James Bond-style ICBMs. Really. The US government, in a very racist way, actually cut the legs out from under African nations' attempts to start national space agencies which is why to this very day, that continent has few of them. The method was a cynical use of non-proliferation treaties and UN agencies and the CIA. The white power establishment in Washington figured that Negroes would take all that uranium that Africa is full of and launch it toward the US of A. What their motivation might be was never explained. Turns out that the threat was from our friends the Saudis who simply slammed planes full of passengers into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center so that Muslim countries would have the world's tallest buildings (Petronas and Burj). Crazy right? That's politics and that's why the politicized government space program refuses to get Americans into space. The first space tourists (one of them a NASA employee!) had to go over to Russia to buy a ticket to orbit.

So the government was paranoid about rockets hefting nuclear warheads. But it was also afraid of ordinary Joes and Jolenes traveling in space. Forget the NASA propaganda that your tax dollars pay for: your dream of spaceflight is their nightmare. You might go up there and see all the militarization going on. Space for peaceful uses? Only if you (yes, you the reader) are there to police them and report on them and expose them. That's why they were so careless and blew up a teacher in space. Because next was a journalist in space.

It is true that governments like North Korea have not figured out that there are more uses for rockets than as bomb-delivering ICBMs. But that is true of most governments including ours. Instead of making money up there, they simply are looking for bigger things to blow up and destroy. And meanwhile, some Arabs and Muslims have figured out that their governments keep them down by manipulating them to hate Israel. This is kind of like the way rich white Southerners would yell the N-word to excite the poor whites to lynch black Southerners so that the poor whites would not notice that they had the worst jobs, the worst schools, and the worst health in the nation. Still true by the way. Jews serve the same purpose in the Muslim world - to distract attention away from governments that operate Abu Ghraib type torture prisons and that unleash secret police, riot police and even military tanks and helicopter gunships upon unarmed taxpayers who lack the right to vote. Libya, Syria, and other countries are good examples.

India was once a poor country. It got a space agency and now it is a fast developing country because of high tech.

So what does all this politics and religion have to do with backyard space projects? Simply this: ordinary people are using high technology like cellphones, Facebook, Twitter and now private manned space transportation to free themselves from oppressive government. That might sound grandiose or inappropriate or premature but it is true. Time will prove just how true.

Advice to underground space projects:

1. Stay as far away as possible from terrorists, jihadists, Muslim fundamentalists, criminals, Mafia, drug dealers, communists, intelligence agency operatives and people you suspect of being spies. There is a long list of methods for screening out such scum. Use all of the methods. Not just one or two.

2. Don't use hydrazine and other TNT or nitroglycerin equivalents. There are much safer propellants than high explosives. These substances attract the attention of ATF. They have machines and dogs that can sniff them out.

3. The Autonomous Astronauts Association is full of it.

4. Use firmware not software. Don't care how much you think your software is hack-proof or malware-proof. It isn't. Switch to firmware. Remember the advice of Star Trek's Scotty: the more complicated they make it, the easier it is to throw a monkey wrench in the works.

5. The Russians' hardware is antiquated but it works better than NASA's over-thought junk. The Russians can launch in a blizzard. Our shuttles could not handle lightning strikes (our airliners can do that) or a cold snap (O ring). KISS. Keep it simple stupid.

6. Get a license from the Office of Commercial Space Transportation or design something other than a rocket (like a space plane or a flying saucer) or move to a country that simply does not care what you do on your own property way out in the boondocks.

7. Investigate space flag of convenience countries that have little or no regulation of space projects. They may see any space project as in their national interest and welcome your group with open arms.

8. Keep your mouth shut. You want it private or even secret? Then keep it that way.

9. Consider actually having your hangar underground. Just like the UFO bases that the abductees and close encounter believers claim exist.

10. Keep your project peaceful. Don't kill the rest of us, okay? We're offering you moral support. Don't betray that trust because if you do, we will cooperate with the authorities.

11. Keep your project green and clean. Most of the propellants used by the military and NASA are toxic to the environment, to your lungs, and to your stomach. That's why they need specialists in hazmat suits to decommission old ICBMs and to "safe" the space shuttle when it lands and vents gases.

12. Be considerate of other underground space projects. Respect their right to exist. Just because they are right wing and you are left wing or they are left wing and you are right wing does not mean that they will rape your children. It may turn out that you have a lot in common. They may have a great recipe for rhubarb pie or are a lot of fun at a rock concert. You will never know that if you don't talk and build bridges. The only friends underground space projects have (other than the larger backyard space community) are other underground space projects. It is a brotherhood and sisterhood.

13. Underground space projects are not a new phenomenon. However, even space historians have been unable to document the groups that have come and gone. Before the Mars Underground was the Noah Project (interstellar travel) which had thousands of members. And if you can't get your social, organizational, psychological, financial and technological act together; then you too will end up on the scrap heap of history along with the lost plans to the Saturn Five booster.

14. Speaking of scrap heaps, it is amazing what you can find in junkyards.

15. Accounting: take what you think it will cost and multiply by a factor of hundred if the project is achieving Earth orbit. Multiply by a factor of ten thousand if the project is deep space. You will need more money than you anticipated because of test flight crashes and because insurance companies do not insure underground projects. You have to self-insure. By the way, there are several insurance companies that specialize in covering commercial space projects.

16. Operations: Even though you have money to burn, spend a tenth of what you budget to spend. If you have geniuses on staff, then spend one-hundredth of your budget. Tight fists force you to be smart and to innovate. Money makes you stupid. Case in point: the NASA manned space program while the shoestring budget unmanned projects do miracles. Case in point: the Pentagon while the forgotten Coast Guard saves lives.

17. Get professionals into your group and be professional in your project management. Just because it is underground or secret is no excuse for failure.

18. Learn, learn, learn and then learn some more. Know more than the so-called experts at NASA.

19. Don't think that just because you are not using hydrazine or any rocket fuel that workshop safety does not apply to you. If you are fooling around with something exotic like MHD or magnetic propulsion or antimatter or something that no one but you has heard of, then you need to remember that it will be decades before medical research catches up with what you are doing. The people who fooled around with radium (the Curies and clock dial workers) did not know that they were turning their bones to powder. Your body is not just chemical but electric and magnetic fields will affect your body's magnetic field. And gravitational physics is literally in its first days. We evolved in gravity and space medicine reports good effects and bad effects to zero G. As far as antimatter goes, your project's staff physician or surgeon general can simply survey workers at accelerators to find out the health effects of exposure to antimatter and anti-energy and then recommend precautions.

20. If you are male, never view your female members as lesser contributors. A spacecraft interior designed by a male rocket jock will be hard and full of switches that stick out and injure crew during sudden decelerations. A female would say: Can't we get some padding in here and recess the switches or replace them with buttons so that eyes are not gouged out? If you are female and possibly part of an all-female space group, don't dismiss males as all stupid. It was a male that suggested this item. Diversity prevents stupid things from happening.

21. You need a large membership to sustain the project.

22. If your project will take so much time that your grandchildren's grandchildren will not see its completion, then you have morphed into NASA. If you use phrases like "in our lifetime" too much, then perhaps it will not happen in your lifetime. You need to speed things up. From the start of your underground space project to the first liftoff of something (rocket, plane, saucer, etc.) off the ground should be no more than two years. If that long.



22. Otherwise, you are doing something wrong. Your chief operations officer should be fired for incompetence. Your fund-raising committee is lazy and should be replaced with new members. And your members (including you) should be ashamed of yourselves for not leaning on the COO and finance people. Engineering, both astronautical and financial, is fine but enthusiasm by the rank and file drives it. No strong desire, no success.

23. Look around you. If all the faces in your project are one color, then you probably are Nazis or Fascists and deserve the same fate as Hitler.

24. You need a wide age range. Old people who experienced the early days of the Space Age and young people with energy and new ideas. You might even find old people with energy and ideas.

25. If you have tried every trick in the book to succeed with your project and failed, then throw “the book” out and write another one.

Mars Underground

There is an actual Mars Underground organization. Whether it is the same as the old Mars Underground organization or The Mars Society, I leave to future updates of this lens to sort out.

There is a link to one of these groups in the Link List.

Needless to say, the photo above is a poster for the movie.

Mars Underground

one of the novels (there have been several)

Mars Underground

the music.

Better than Holst's "The Planets" Mars theme? You be the judge.

The Mars Underground (Robert Zubrin, 2007) 1 of 5

"if every nation halved their defense budgets there would be more than enough money. (I know that sounds like a naïve statement) It seems to make much more sense to kill each other than to inspire each other." -- mrmattaus

CAPTIONED Mars Underground (Robert Zubrin, 2007) 5 of 5.flv

Symphony of Science - 'The Case for Mars' (ft. Zubrin, Sagan, Cox & Boston)


"The Case for Mars" is the sixth installment in the Symphony of Science music video series. It features Robert Zubrin, Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, and Penelope Boston. Samples come from the documentary "The Mars Underground", Cosmos, and Wonders of the Solar System. The video is intended to pique curiosity about the planet Mars and to promote human exploration of it.

useful magazines

the book you want is by the same publisher (Jane's) that publishes this

The book you want is Jane's All the World's Spacecraft.

WIRED SCIENCE | Space Junkyard | PBS

Wired Science: Space and Flight: Space Junkyard

local machine shops can help

tool and die operations can be cheap - and they can be expensive

look in space directories (Jane's is one of many) - the products and services within will cost you at least a million

so you're cheaper off with your home workshop

yes, but we're talking about something that will fly - I can't afford a hangar at an airport

It's called a backyard space project. A barn will double as a hangar.

Propulsion Ideas - (or as the little kids say: "make it go zoom"

You should already know that SSTO means single stage to orbit. In other words, what goes up comes back down in the same one piece. This is not like staging rockets where you launch a skyscraper and stages fall off and you eventually land in the little capsule atop the whole assembly.

Be sure to smack anyone who visits and calls what you are building a "vehicle". That is stupid NASA-speak. Vehicles have wheels that don't retract into the fuselage and vehicles drive on streets and roads. More stupid NASA-speak is this "on orbit" business. You are not aiming to get onto an orbit. You are aiming to get into an orbit. NASA is lost in the virtual space of the internet where you actually are on-line. That's where they got the inspiration to re-name being in orbit to being "on orbit". Idiots.

So remember your backyard space project is a spacecraft or spaceship (if it is really big). If someone comes around and calls what you are building a "vehicle", then they are probably from NASA and will probably sabotage your project. So keep them away and quadruple check everything after they leave. You don't want to die doing this.

- - please note: I am not advocating fusion or any particular propuslion mode

I'm just telling you some of your choices.

chemical rockets do this - This is Challenger's go at throttle up.

The other shuttle disaster was not a chemical rocket problem but instead a heat shield problem.

While it is sad for anyone to die, the lesson to get away from chemical rocket technology was not learned by NASA. They continue to say like a mantra that space is unsafe for ordinary people like you. Well, duh, yes if you keep using chemical rockets.

And if you insist on using chemical rockets, then know two things:

1. ATF, Homeland Security and the local bomb squad will be paying you regular visits because chemical propellants are basically high explosives.

2. There are relatively safe throttle-able solid and liquid fuels that do not explode. The idea of safer fuels is already entering the field of aviation so astronautics needs to accept the idea of safer fuels too.

ramjets and scramjets

UFO's. Everyone knows this is crackpot territory.

Well be amazed at how I make it not so crackpot.



from crackpot to Nobel Laureate territory in three easy steps

lest you think that this is all theoretical . . . - . . . this is a real ship that used MHD

"Yamato 1, is a boat built in the early 1990s by Japanese conglomerate "The Mitsubishi Group" [in Kobe]. It uses a magnetohydrodynamic drive, driven by a liquid helium-cooled superconductor, and can travel at 15 km/h (8 knots).

The Yamato 1 was the first working prototype of its kind. It was completed in Japan in 1991 [and] was first successfully propelled in Kobe harbour in June 1992. Yamato 1 is propelled by two MHD thrusters that run without any moving parts." (wikipedia)

Some rights reserved by soberch

seeing as how physicists don't really have a handle on gravity - I'd say anti-gravity is one step further from reality

but it is worth listing as a possible mode of propulsion

ion propulsion on the other hand is very real and in use today - several companies are in the ion engine business

problem is, they are only for use in space - don't think they can get you off the ground or boost you into orbit

Amazon Voting (Plexo)

editor's note : I do not recommend using wood as a spaceship construction material but bamboo is another matter . . .

Alabama Blast-Off
Alabama Blast-Off

Bringing new meaning to the term "mile-high club", the Rednecks enter a NASA contest with the hopes of launching a man-capable rocket 1 mile into the sky.

Editor's Note -- Finally !!! Finally after wasting a season doing everything but something related to their jobs at NASA, they finally get around to putting their minds to getting people into space. But then NASA itself does everything but get people into space. If NASA did care about getting average people into space, then there would be no need for this lens.


Rocketeers: How a Visionary Band of Business Leaders, Engineers, and Pilots is Boldly Privatizing Space

You could build this.

And park it in your hangar since it is too big for most garages.

A DIY Space Suit for the 99 Percent - Wired

See how Dr. Cameron M. Smith build a spacesuit from parts purchased at the hardware store.

SpaceShip Man

Editor's Note -- If he got investors and a business manager to handle sales and licensing, then this would be interesting.

Someone should tell him.

Building a Homemade Spacecraft

According to their site, anyone with any brains can build their own spacecraft using easily available products.

This is obvious PhotoShop. Even if one used state of the art Hollywood special effects, there is the total lack of logic. Nothing this nice looking would be left out in the weather. It would be in a hangar or garage. There are still other ways to spot a fake. I put this here to inform hoaxers that the Backyard Space Project actually builds these things and has little patience with hoaxers except to expose them and get them banned from YouTube.

Small rocket projects. Two problems with these is that you cannot get people in them and safe human space flight is not the purpose of these programs.


All NASA and no backyard.

Widescreen version of another video in this group.

Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) - formerly the Vertical Assembly Building

Why NASA people refer to flying things as vehicles is beyond me. I suppose they refer to their trucks and cars and motorcycles as craft which must be a hoot when they are involved in what the DMV refers to as a vehicular accident. However, we should expect odd usages of language from a bunch that after the shuttle program started, they began to talk of astronauts being "on orbit". Not in orbit as they had been since the days of Project Mercury but "on orbit" in the same sense as being online with your computer at work or home. Now when one is standing in line at a supermarket, should we instead be standing on a line? I am not sure how one can be on an orbit.

Rockets do not have wheels. They are not vehicles. Even air planes that do have wheels use them only for taxiing, landing and take-off. They are designed to fly from NYC to LA, not roll on the ground from New York to Los Angeles. The Moon Buggy was a vehicle but the thing that brought it to the lunar surface was not.

Why should a poor grasp of grammar matter to engineers and to the military personnel who brought a lot of the technology taken from Goddard and Von Braun's Germans? Simple. We use words to think. If you cannot think straight, then you make mistakes that get people killed. The shuttle was supposed to operate like a bus. Their words. Check the history of the program if you doubt me. Buses stop as often as every other block. Even intercity buses stop at every obscure hamlet they can find to pick up additional passengers along the way to recover costs. The analogy with buses was made to indicate the economy intended by the program. However, the shuttle program was never economical nor were flights frequent. It certainly had no ability to stop which a flying saucer or helicopter might do but no rocket nor plane nor rocket plane could do while flying.

The very name of the field "aerospace" betrays an inability to understand that the aviation environment (air) and the astronautical environment (space, or the lack of air) are two fundamentally different environments. Lip service says that they understand but why has so little progress been made in space? NASA was charged with aviation research and space research because morons had not the sense to have aviation research done by one bureaucracy and space research done by an entirely separate agency -- as in every other nation. We still have companies that call themselves Smith Aerospace or Jones Aerospace and nothing they do has anything even remotely to do with space.

The managers are one more step removed from reality. So when the astronautical engineers saw the ice hanging off the "vehicle" one cold launch day and they warned the managers at NASA, the managers dismissed their concern because the heat of ignition and acceleration through the atmosphere would burn it off. Besides, many managers remembered the ice on the sides of the Saturn Five because of the cryogenic liquids inside. We have all seen the chunks of ice coming off the big Saturn Fives in those videos of a Saturn Five launch. That inferno coming out the engines took care of that in a jiffy.

In the first shuttle disaster, the O-ring was warped by the freezing temperatures of the air in Florida on that cold launch day -- not internal tanks. In the second shuttle disaster, hard chunks of ice did not hit a tough Saturn Five hull. Foam insulation from the external tank hit a wing. A rescue mission was possible had NASA management acted in time. What thinking led to these disasters?

I had to do an analysis for a graduate school paper once. They never should have changed the name of the VAB from Vertical. Moving from critique to praise, the VAB is:

1. one of the largest buildings on Earth by volume,

2. the largest single-story building in the world and

3. the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area.

It is so big that is has its own weather inside. If if humidity get high enough, it will form clouds at the top and rain.

Saturn Five on Crawler - in front of the VAB

All of this is to point out that --

1. a Saturn Five was as tall as a skyscraper and the tallest rocket ever

2. a Saturn Five was the heaviest rocket ever and still holds the record for heaviest payload launched and heaviest payload capacity to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) of 118,000 kg (260,146 pounds)

3. a Saturn Five was the most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status

When one of these Roman numeral V Roman candles was lit, they produced a shock wave that thumped you in the chest even if you were standing miles away and the roar was deafening enough that people covered their ears with their hands or wore ear plugs or ear muffs (or were already partly deaf from previous Saturn V launches they attended).

For all this thunder and size, only three people were delivered to Low Earth orbit.

The moral of this story? A more efficient craft could put the power into delivering more people to orbit instead of wasting it on noise and vibration. As crazy as the free energy and flying saucer tinkerers are, they have a point here. Electric cars don't waste energy on noise and so they do not need mufflers like internal combustion engines. Thinking macho with these phallic symbols might make one feel good to be making so much noise but going from the Earth to the Moon and back meant throwing away the entire craft piece by piece. Even the Apollo capsule that returned scorched, rusted, oxidized and dunked in the salt water could not be used again. Unless you wanted to spend a heck of a lot on refurbishment. The shuttle was supposed to need little refurbishment and a flying saucer would need zero refurbishment. Theoretically.

Remember the moral of the story.


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