The world was talking about space ventures and preparing for Sir. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to hit the edge of space. During the time, I felt that only a handful of people would be lucky if the billionaires reserved space. My curiosity propelled me to discover some grassroots space mission working in anonymity somewhere on earth. I landed the Copenhagen Suborbitals. Excited, I tried out reaching out to them via Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) but was of no help. Linkedin? Yes. And there I connected with Bianca Diana Turneanu, a cog that welds the space machines at Copenhagen Suborbitals. Romania-born Bianca Diana Turneanu in Denmark welds spacecraft at a volunteer-run space organization aiming to un-billionaire-ize space! I waited no longer to run a set of questions by her reflecting on Copenhagen Suborbitals, her role at work, and the idea of a democratized space.
Bianca Diana Turneanu, please introduce to my readers your big beautiful world. Tell us about where you are from, where you currently live, your education, what you do to make a living, etc. Tell us as much as we should know to appreciate what you are doing and where you are headed.
Originally, I’m from Romania. Currently, I live in Copenhagen, Denmark. I graduated with a Master’s in Autonomous Systems from the Technical University of Denmark, primary education in Robotics. There’s also my previous background in IT and Networks, a field in which I worked for some time and enjoyed it. Then I transitioned towards robotics engineering, which happens to be quite close to rockets on some subsystems that I primarily target!
Bianca, could you tell us about Copenhagen Suborbitals that proposes to take ordinary humans to space?
We aim to prove that space does not need to be reserved for people backed by enormous funding; you can reach the space fueled by passion, dedication, teamwork and support from fellow engineering enthusiasts!
How did you join Copenhagen Suborbitals? How did you learn about CS, got initiated into this idea? Did you have any mental homework that prepared you to join this group as a volunteer?
I learned about CS on my first day as an IT support intern during my bachelor’s. A CS member showed some videos of the previous launches, and I asked for details about those rockets. I was very surprised to learn they were located in Copenhagen! I had not heard of the organization by that point. I did not do any mental homework beforehand; I just visited during the cold flow test of our Nexø I rocket. During that visit, I helped tighten some plates on the newer Nexø II rocket in its building phase, and I was hooked! After that, it was all learning on the spot.
What is your role in Copenhagen Suborbitals? Do you have other women in the group? How excited are they and all of you together to have a piece of the pie of making space accessible to ordinary humans?
We can all choose our activities – I chose to start in the network & live stream department, which is still my primary role to this day, a role which I was happy to support during our last rocket launch in Bornholm. I also weld and can do machining work. I have, in time, transitioned towards my rocket subsystem of choice, Guidance Navigation and Control, which I am currently focusing on.
We do have other women in the group; some are weld, others are in the electronics department, or do software development – we are all super excited for this project!
As you already know, I am fascinated by how you and your team are connected in this volunteer-run mission without any financial remuneration. What brings you guys together with 60 people or so? What is the secret of such an incredible bonding?
Passion! The love for technical development and engineering is what binds many of us together, the passion for space itself and exploration, discovery, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and, not least, the fact that it’s an amazing group of people, great to hang out with! We have gotten many curious inquiries on what makes 60 people come to further work in the workshop after their day job, in their free time, with no pay, year after year. We like what we’re doing; it’s fun, it’s fulfilling, it’s a great company to be in!
Now that it is a volunteer-run, we understand how important every member in this workshop is. While it is not feasible for you to talk to us about all the people in the group, would you mind starting with 3 to 4 people you have worked with closely and telling us about them briefly?
I have worked closely with Jacob Skov Larsen, who runs most of the technical show, decisions and direction, and Peter Scott, the mastermind behind our electronics and networks. We have multifaceted skill sets and participate in many different aspects, but these two guys are some of our human Swiss knives! They can do anything, their skill sets ranging so far and wide, it’s incredible – with a hefty serving of solid vision on top.
Fortunately, we have some more of these interesting minds in the workshop, which helps the project greatly. I also work closely with Peter Mærsk in the Livestream department, another smart and capable guy who developed the whole software for our streaming from the ground up, collaborating with Scott for the network side. I find Mærsk to be fun to work with, also someone with a great range of skills, knowledge and experience. Then there’s Flemming Nyboe, the mastermind of the Guidance Navigation and Control subsystem of all our previous rockets, which I have learned a great deal from, and I aim to match in skill! On top, we have Martin Petersen, a whizz in all things mechanical, who I’ve learned a great deal from, including welding.
Today we have Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk taking full control of the edge of space. It is an incredible time in human history, and women astronauts are accompanying the billionaires to space. As Bianca Diana Turneanu, what do you think about women billionaires taking charge? Do you have a woman billionaire in mind who you think should lead the next edge of space missions?
I’m happy for the enthusiasm shown by all; I think they contribute to inspiring the movement further! I do not have someone in particular in mind I am rooting for, woman or otherwise; I’m happy for whoever does it; the more, the merrier!
I do hope there will be continued growing interest from all camps – and from what I’ve seen, there is!
Every object has a shadow to it. Every idea has a counterpoint. Every action has a reaction. What do you think could be potentially damaging if this hunger for adventuring into space is not kept in control?
I would imagine it’s what we have seen in human history on Earth, what space laws are currently looking to avoid: competition to secure as much territory, again – this time, the space edition.
The vastness of space should help circumvent this issue; at the same time, it might even feel it more – being more to conquer.
The hunger for space exploration, in itself, is an admirable and noble pursuit. The expansion of space technology has greatly benefited Earth; we are all excited for all the momentum and support space adventures have gained worldwide.