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Hobbyists to Launch Spacecraft

The U.S. and Russia were the first to launch spacecraft. The European Union is now launching their own spacecraft, and businesses regularly launch commercial satellites. Now, for the first time, U.S. hobbyists will launch a rocket into space. The Civilian Space Exploration Team of Minnesota plans to launch a rocket 70 miles into space from the Black Rock desert in Nevada. According to team member Jerry Larson, "All systems are go."

The FAA has given the group permission to launch their Primera Spaceshot 2002 rocket, which is designed to separate into two parts. The 2 pieces will parachute back to Earth 25 miles from the launch site. Project director Ky Michaelson says, "Everything is home made. We want to prove that an amateur could do this."

The rocket cost $150,000 to build, is 17 feet long and weighs 550 pounds. It has five on-board computers and it will broadcast video images back to Earth. If the flight is a success, the group will next try to put a satellite into orbit. This would also be homemade, and may broadcast a message to ham radio operators.

Spaceflight expert James Oberg believes companies will eventually be selling spacecraft kits for hobbyists to build and launch. He says, "There are companies that build rockets that will wait for one of these groups to open up a market and then they'll step in."

If they listen closely, they may get some help from the experts. To find out what they?re telling one person, read ?Talking to Extraterrestrials? by Lisette Larkins, click here. Lisette was on Dreamland radio August 31. You can hear her interview by clicking ?Listen Now? at the top right of our homepage.

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