Leading article: Viking explorer

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The Danish pastry, when you come to think about it, is really just a croissant with a bit of icing on top. There is something of similar delightful simplicity about the rocket which, if the wind is in the right direction, could soon make Denmark only the fourth nation in the world to send a man into space.

The culture which brought you Lego and Lurpak is about to blast the world's first amateur-built rocket into space. If it is successful one of its two inventors, Kristian von Bengtson – who once built the world's largest home-made submarine – hopes within three years to blast into sub-orbital space in a capsule so small he will have to fly standing up. His rocket is fuelled by liquid oxygen and solid rubber. Like the famous pastry it will cost just a fraction of a proper meal – around 0.02 per cent of the average Nasa space mission.

His compatriots, of course, have not done much in the way of thrusting themselves into other people's territory since they changed their name from Vikings to Danes in the 11th century. But then a recent international survey rated Denmark as "the happiest place in the world". Perhaps that's why most of Mr von Bengtson's fellow citizens prefer to keep their feet on the ground.

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