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Inside the Great American Amateur Space Race

Launching rockets into space seems like one of the few ports that hobbyists have a hard time accessing. Certainly, Few private companies They compete with NASA, the European Space Agency and Russia’s Roscosmos, but they are multi-million dollar companies backed by billionaires. Not the dude in the garage. but before SpaceX And the Virgo GalaxyThere was Ky Michaelson and another couple of self-funded crazy scientists hoping to launch their own rockets into orbit. new offer Homemade astronauts (Now streaming on Discovery+) Opens the lid on the unknown world of aficionados of rocket builders and their crazy pursuit of space.

In a familiar form for fans Deadliest huntingThe show follows three crews as they work toward the countdown to launch, with all the drama and suspense that comes with the dangers of pushing human miles into the air — with a camera crew. There’s Mad Mike Hughes and Waldo Stakes, who use a series of steam-missile test flights. Their ultimate goal is to build a hybrid rocket and hot air balloon to carry Hughes 62 miles to the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. In Oregon, Cameron Smith wants to hit the Armstrong Line, 60,000 feet high, in a hot air balloon. His secret is tinker creativity, including a cast-iron pot. And finally there’s Michaelson, the old growth of Homemade astronauts.

“It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds to make a rocket and put a man in space,” says Michaelson.

Gary explains to the team (David, Curt, Buddy, and Kee) his process for making rocket fuel. Courtesy Discovery +

Now 82, Minnesota has always dreamed of space. He had stars on his bedroom ceiling growing up, and his father was an astronomer who fitted his telescope lenses. Thanks to his “mechanical mind and photography” he was always building things. He laid out his first rocket from his childhood black powder chemistry set.

“I had dyslexia,” Michaelson explains. “It was the best thing that could happen to me. I put a chip on my shoulder. I thought ‘I can do anything better than anyone else.’ I’m always up for a challenge.” And he never gave up on taking a risk. He raced cars and acted as a gamer in more than 200 movies and TV shows. But it was always a margin of his passion.

“Rockets were my life,” he says. “There’s not a lot of stuff I haven’t put a missile on.”

This list includes – but is not limited to – cars, snowmobiles, motorcycles, sledges and even a toilet, SS Flash. His son’s legal name is Buddy Rocketman Michaelson. The elder Michaelson says he owns 72 different missile records.

Space access was more beneficial. The biggest obstacle to getting there was not technical. It was bureaucratic.

Key and Body Rocket Michaelson
Ky and Buddy at the Rocketboys meeting to launch an upcoming drone missile. Courtesy Discovery +

With two other rocket makers in the backyard, Michaelson in 1997 formed Rocket Civilian space exploration team, a private company that aims to go beyond Earth’s atmosphere. NASA has never issued a permit to launch a rocket into space — except for itself. It was in no hurry to set precedent, set hurdle after hurdle for Michelson. It took more than two years for NASA to issue the permit.

Over the next five years, CSE launched a series of test flights, gradually increasing the rocket’s size and altitude. Much of the funding for the effort came from Jeb Michaelson.

“I’ve made a lot of money in my life,” he says, then dead, “I’ve also spent a lot of money in my life.”

It paid off in 2004. His team launched $200,000 GoFast Rocket From the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Powered by hydrogen peroxide fuel and screens of silver catalysts that turn it into super-hot steam, it reaches 72 miles above Earth’s surface, becoming the first private rocket to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere.

“It was the biggest moment of my life,” Michaelson says. “I broke down and cried.”

A decade later, the team has repeated success. Now they want to do it with a man on board. This is where Discovery + captures the story.

“My ultimate goal is to send a missile 50 miles up and down safely with someone on board,” he says. “I will continue to do so for as long as I am able.”

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Written by Joseph

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