You might remember when — back in 2012 — skydiver, BASE jumper, and all round daredevil Felix Baumgartner made history as the first man to break the speed of sound in freefall. He’d jumped from the Earth’s stratosphere, breaking a couple of other world records along the way.
And now, a Singaporean might well be on his/her way to doing something equally exciting in a project that has been years in the making.
Back in 2013, Mr Lim Seng, founder of the local startup In.Genius, announced that they planned to send a Singaporean to space by 2015. Earlier this morning, TODAY reported that a test flight by the company (which took place on Saturday) had succeeded, with the test subjects, three rats, “jumping and alive” when the capsule landed. The test flight had travelled to a height of 29.5km above sea level, and had lasted 110 minutes.
Following this test, the first human test flight is now set to take place on 12 May later this year in Alice Springs, Australia. The flight will ascend to 4km above sea level, with further tests taking on higher altitudes until the final one on National Day, which will travel to a height of 20km.
In an interview with TODAY, Mr Lim Seng, founder of In.Genius (the tech company who started this project), explained that Australia was chosen as the venue for the final flight due to financial reasons, though he also discussed the possibility of taking it to the North Pole. The flight will not be taking off from Singapore as the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore raised concerns about possible safety and operational risks.
The question, of course, is which Singaporean will be the one to take on this challenge. There are currently 12 candidates in the running, and the final decision will only be made in May.
According to Mr Lim, the person selected “must prove (that he or she) is doing it for the right reasons and be a good role model for other Singaporeans.” He added that he hoped for this project to inspire more Singaporeans to take risks and turn their ideas into reality. Mr Lim himself is no small fry: he designed the first UAV simulator in the world, set up Singapore’s first offshore Defence Technology Office for Europe in Paris, and even joined the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) as senior advisor and vice-president for two different divisions in the company.
The eventual goal, according to Mr Lim, is a commercial space tourism vehicle that can accommodate six people.
A Singapore-made space shuttle? Why not?