Space capsule to send first Singaporean into space unveiled

The space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space is unveiled at Resorts World Sentosa by IN.Genius founder and director Lim Seng (right), advisor for National Research Foundation at Prime Minister's Office Lui Pa
The space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space is unveiled at Resorts World Sentosa by IN.Genius founder and director Lim Seng (right), advisor for National Research Foundation at Prime Minister's Office Lui Pao Chuen (left), and executive vice-president of RWS Goh Chye Boon (second from right) on Nov 1, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A boy peeks into the interior of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space after its unveiling at Resorts World Sentosa on Nov 1, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A boy peeks into the interior of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space after its unveiling at Resorts World Sentosa on Nov 1, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Students from Tanjong Katong Girls' School, Haig Girls Primary School, Holy Innocents Primary School and Bedok Green Primary School take turns to get a feel of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space. -- ST P
Students from Tanjong Katong Girls' School, Haig Girls Primary School, Holy Innocents Primary School and Bedok Green Primary School take turns to get a feel of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A pupil from Bedok Green Primary School takes a picture of the interior of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
A pupil from Bedok Green Primary School takes a picture of the interior of the space capsule that is expected to hold the first Singaporean to go into space. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - A local company's project to send the first Singaporean into space on National Day next year (2015) reached another milestone on Saturday, with the space capsule unveiled at Resorts World Sentosa.

But coming soon after a Virgin Galactic rocket ship's crash in the United States on Friday, the company, IN.Genius, stressed at the event the "over-designed" safety aspects of its own vessel, and the lower risk of the project.

IN.Genius hopes to launch a pilot from Singapore in a helium stratospheric balloon craft into near-space, more than 20km above sea level.

The company's founder and director Lim Seng said there were risks associated with any space project, but added that the use of a balloon instead of rockets to launch the Singapore craft lessened the danger.

"We've also put in redundancy upon redundancy in the craft, and exceeded the safety requirements by nine times, to make sure the space capsule is as safe as it can be," he said.

The capsule is 2m by 2m by 3m and weighs 400kg without a pilot. It consists of a pressurised aluminium vessel, a steel outer frame with a fibre-glass shell, and crush pads. The pads alone are made of a 10-inch thick cell-paper honeycomb and a base of Kevlar, and can withstand up to 40 g-forces to provide shock absorption during landing.

Twelve pilot candidates have been chosen from more than 150 applicants, and will be further whittled down before the launch.

A laboratory rat will be used in a test flight in India in January, and the first manned flight, to 4,000m above sea level, is set to take place in Australia in April next year.

zengkun@sph.com.sg