Kevin Healy has a rocket in his pocket. Or, more accurately, he has a rocket in his college dormitory room.
The 20 year old graduate of St. Mary's Hall, who is finishing his sophomore year at Baylor University, has spent the past several months building a working rocket in his dorm room. And not a model or a radio controlled rocket either. He hopes this rocket breaks the current altitude record for a amateur built rocket.
"Which is 72 miles, which is about 10 miles into space, or ten times higher than the average jetliner flies," he told 1200 WOAI news.
Kevin has always had an aptitude for engineering. While in high school he built a fully functional electric car.
His plan is to have the rocket fully functional by December, when he plans to transport it to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, and launch it into space. He says the project will cost about $30,000, and he is mounting a campaign on the web site 'Kickstarter.com' to try to raise the money.
Kevin stressed that while he has the support of this professors at Baylor, this project is totally his own.
He says as NASA phases out the era of government-sponsored rocketry, large companies like Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk's 'Space-X' are filling the gap.
"We've done a good job with larger companies getting big guys into space, but the Horizon Rocket really fits the niche of space for the little guy," he said.
So what makes him think he can pull this off? Kevin points out that the current altitude record for an amateur-built rocket was set in 2004, and he says technology available to him has advanced a lot since then.
He points out that in 2004, the only types of fuel available to amateur rocket builders was solid fuel, which he says is like a firecracker and provides limited propulsion. He says in the intervening decade, safe liquid rocket fuel has become available.
"A liquid fuel rocket has two tanks of fuel that are pumped into a chamber," he said. "The advantage to that is you can have more power and a longer burn time."
Healy may not be part of rocketry for the 'little guy' for long. He says he has had conversations with Space-X, which has operations near Waco and is looking at the possibility of building a launch pad near Brownsville.
So it looks like for this San Antonio rocket man, it isn't just the Horizon Rocket that can say that the sky is the limit.