The journey continues for Space project looking to send the first Singaporean across the Armstrong line
The historic launch met challenges that tested the team’s resolve but also marks the start of more Space-related projects in the coming years.
31 May 2019, Alice Springs — At 0645 hrs Australian Central Standard time on Friday 31st May, Singaporean Marvyn Lim Seng attempted Singapore’s maiden journey into space from Alice Springs, Australia. The objective was to cross the Armstrong line (20km above sea level) in Quantum 1, Singapore’s first space capsule, using the same high-altitude stratospheric balloons deployed by NASA and Russia for space missions.
During takeoff, a sudden dip in the capsule as the strato-balloon disengaged from the launch crane resulted in the ground impact that compromised the integrity of the capsule. After 19 minutes of steady ascent attaining over 24,000 ft, the mission was aborted due to capsule depressurization caused by the ground impact.
Mr. Lim was accompanied by a team of 9 volunteers from all walks of life. Photo Credit: GoSpace.sg
As predicted by the pre-flight plan, Mr. Lim landed approximately 25 km northwest of the launch point. The landing was as smooth as a commercial aircraft landing on the tarmac. After being picked up by the rescue helicopter, he said, “We’re sorry that we didn’t manage to get the first Singaporean into space for our country. However, I am tremendously pleased with the team for exercising independent leadership. Ultimately, the attempt is more significant than the outcome. Our journey continues.”
Unhurt and undeterred, Mr. Lim reflected on the many different design aspects of the capsule that he first started developing in 2013. The crushables for example, a safety layer at the bottom of the capsule made by expensive composite material and cardboard egg trays, are used to minimize impact during landing. Alongside that were the reefed open parachute concept (used as a backup in case of strato-balloon burst), the BLOS iridium data link cut-command software, the life support system in the capsule as well as Singapore’s first spacesuit that helped counter depressurization.
“But most of all, the commitment and independent leadership that was demonstrated by the team members made a difference,” Mr. Lim continued.
GoSpace.sg, the project to bring the first Singaporean to the edge of space, has been in development since 2013. The first launch attempt scheduled for 2015 during Singapore’s SG50 celebrations ran into delays owing to a missing component which was a controlled military grade item. Last year, the planned launch was postponed due to adverse wind conditions that were reaching more than 245 km/hr along the flight path which could rupture the stratospheric balloon system.
Volunteers and sponsors from all walks of life currently make up the team at GoSpace.sg.
“It’s been a long arduous journey. We’re happy to finally launch albeit a mid-air abortion. There were many setbacks and obstacles but we persevered and finally achieved strato-manned launch which very few have attempted. I am proud of the team and also want to give special mention and many thanks to Launch Director Mr. Wesley D’Aranjo, CEO of Beth-Le, Mr. Loh Jwee Poh, CEO of Mr. Bean and Mr. Tay Lim Hock of GIC for their heartfelt contributions and fervent support.”
Space and beyond
After the launch today, Mr. Lim has set his sights to reach further up into Space.
“We’re talking about uncharted territory here. As you may know, Space is a vast area and there are a lot of opportunities for scientific and technological discoveries, not just about Satellites. We’re currently discussing and testing out space laser communications and other related ideas with like-minded companies.”
“The success or further development of these projects will pave the way for new technologies. We need the vision to see, and the courage to do.” Mr. Lim said.
Through this launch, Mr. Lim hopes to elevate the mindset of fellow Singaporeans to inspire them to pursue their dreams and never be deterred at the first obstacle.
“I’ve had many hurdles. Many doors shut in my face when asking for help but in the end, it was our team perseverance that got us over the line. As success is not final, and failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts. We’re good at following textbooks but it’s about time we start thinking of writing or rewriting them instead.”
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Having started IN.Genius in 2009, Mr. Lim leads his team with the simple motto of “believing in oneself to have the vision to see what is not there yet; and the courage to do what others cannot imagine.” To date, the startup has been involved in many different innovation projects converting algae to jet A1 fuel; harvesting the sun’s energy from space for use on earth; solar drones that fly into space, applying Golf ball like ‘dimples’ on aircraft to reduce drag and developing a hypersonic space plane demonstrator. In October 2015, Mr. Lim presented at the United Nations Space Resources Symposium where he shared a novel idea for a space-based Internet using laser communication and a “cross-orbit” layer 4 ISO-protocol.