First Singaporean To Be Launched Into Space On 15 May

Some of us dream of saving countless lives as doctors. Some hope to become generation-defining artists.

Others, however, have loftier dreams than simply remaining on Earth.

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Meet local tech firm IN.Genius, who’ve been working tirelessly to send the first Singaporean into space since 2013.

Their 5-year journey will come to a fitting conclusion on Tuesday (15 May), in Alice Springs, Australia.

Catch a glimpse of the magnitude of their incredible endeavour, GoSpace, in this trailer.

While we wait for the historic launch, here are 13 ways they’ve already made history in our books.

1. A high-altitude balloon flight

If you were imagining NASA-level firepower and an impressive rocket, you may wanna adjust your expectations a little.

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Singapore’s version of launching a person into space involves jettisoning a high-altitude balloon attached to a customised space capsule, up up and away.

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Sort of like what happened in the movie Up, but with way less balloons.

2. Singapore’s own Neil Armstrong

Who’s going to be our Neil Armstrong? Albeit replacing the moon with a balloon.

Well, Director Lim Seng remained tight-lipped about the identity of the pilot who’s going to make history.

There is however, a teaser video on their site you can view, outlining the journey taken by their candidates.

Stay tuned for the unveiling of this pilot, during the launch.

3. Singaporean mice already made it to space

Is it even safe to send a Singaporean into space?

Thankfully, the team claims they have perfected their life support system within the space capsule.

A successful test with 3 live lab rats in Hyderabad was conducted on March 2015.

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Perhaps the mice deserve some credit too, for winning the space-faring rat race in Singapore.

4. Spacesuit not needed for leaky capsule

A successful capsule pressure leak test in Apr 2017, also proved something surprising.

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Even while as the capsule attains pressures of 35 millibars over 5 hours, Singapore’s astronaut can go without a spacesuit within it.

A T-shirt, apparently, would be “just fine” according to the team’s findings.

5. Landmark SG 50 launch plans

Back in the heyday of SG50 celebrations, IN.Genius intended to launch the first Singaporean into space as a fitting tribute to the nation.

But they were literally held back by the lack of a space capsule component.

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In the end, they decided to design and build it from scratch.

6. First space launch banned in Singapore

They also faced trouble getting the launch approved in Singapore, as the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore cited safety risks to Singapore’s aircraft.

Now, the launch will be conducted in Australia instead.

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This comes on the back of two very successful trials at 30km altitudes in 2016 at Alice Springs.

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Check out the gorgeous view they captured from the capsule, in one of their test runs.

7. First self-funded space mission

Despite the backing of the Science Centre Board and Singapore Space and Technology Association, limited funds were available.

This led to a few potential pilot candidates backing out from the privately funded project.

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Especially after they were required to pay for a helium balloon pilot course and para-jumping training.

8. Designed 3 space capsules & life support system

Against all odds, IN.Genius still managed to get their hands on these vital components for the launch:

  • A spacesuit
  • 3 space capsules
    • Nov 2014 – Red & White Capsule unveiled in RWS
    • Jan 2015 – Composite Black Capsule displayed at WISMA Atria
    • Mar 2015 – Aluminium Capsule

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  • Functional life-support system
  • Alice Springs space access permission
  • A ginormous helium balloon

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Looks like they’re all ready to send Singapore’s first space-farer on his or her way.

9. Costs a whopping $5-10 million

The entire mission is estimated to cost between $5-10 million, though Mr Lim declined to give further costing details.

Given that the team behind the effort only has 6 members, it’s truly a mystery how they managed to pull this off.

10. Endless possibilities if human trial successful

If the team successfully carries out a human trial on 15 May, it will certainly open up many opportunities in the future.

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Commercial or research-related ventures and collaborations for example, could now be on the cards for them.

11. Historic milestones unlocked

Here’s a quick look at the milestones they’ve clocked along the way.

Feb 2013 – MOU with Science Centre signed
Aug 2013 – Development of 3 space capsules
Feb 2014 – 26 candidates shortlisted
Mar 2015 – 3 Capsules completed. 3 lab rat flight test [SUCCESS]
May 2015 – First drop test in Alice Springs, Australia [SUCCESS]
May 2016 – 2 flight tests within 2 days in Alice Springs [SUCCESS]
Apr 2017 – Capsule pressure leak test [SUCCESS]
Aug 2017 – CASA (AU) in-principle manned flight [APPROVED]
Jan 2018 – Space Suit interface design [CONFIRMED]
Feb 2018 – D-Day to launch: 15 May 2018 at 4.30am (GMT+8)

Prior to the launch, further improvements were made to reduce the landing impact speed.

They were aiming for an even lower G shock, to ensure greater pilot safety.

12. You can make history too

We can’t imagine the gargantuan amount of resources and effort required to finance a project on a scale like this.

So, if you would like to contribute to their cause, an Indiegogo page has been set up.

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You could consider buying a ‘Boasting Rights’ T-shirt to support the upcoming launch.

All proceeds will go into defraying the costs that Lim Seng and his family have absorbed over the years.

13. A faithful promise to LKY in 2015

Upon Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing in 2015, the firm’s director travelled back to Singapore to attend the final day of LKY’s funeral.

In a heartfelt hand-written card addressed to Mr Lee, he wrote,

Thank you Sir, for bringing Singapore to where we are today. I hope to one day bring Singapore into Space.

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A faithful promise, he’s definitely intending to keep with this launch.

Something to cheer about

Besides Singapore being chosen to host the landmark US-North Korea summit, we’re always open to having something to cheer about.

All the best to Mr Lim Seng and team, for keeping his once impossible dream alive, and daring to shoot for the stars.

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Singapore’s rooting for you.

Stay tuned for more news on the historic launch this Tuesday at 4.30am.

Featured image from Snapost.it and IN.Genius.