Ky Michaelson

Ky Michaelson built and launched the first amateur rocket to space. Since childhood, Ky had a penchant for the unknown. It is difficult to say whether his inquisitive nature is inborn or acquired. His family history reveals an impressive list of innovative accomplishments. A few of them include the first motorcycle transmission and clutch, the rotary lawnmower blade, the flip-top aspirin box, the sonic garage door opener, the oxygen mask used in commercial airplanes, and the Boroscope. The Boroscope, invented by Ky's father, was an instrument that looks inside of aircraft wings much like an X-Ray. This innovation alone has saved millions of dollars for the government and the aircraft industry. Ky's accomplishments are equally impressive as those of his family. When Ky was a young boy, his father gave him a book that was printed back in the 1920's. While reading the book, Ky was intrigued by an article that showed a man sitting on top of a rocket on a chair wearing a leather helmet. There was a photo below it showing the man laying on the ground smoldering and the caption read, “and he lived to tell about it.” From that day on, Ky has been fascinated with the fact that you could actually be launched into space with a rocket. At the early age of 12, Ky was given a Gilbert chemistry set for Christmas. That was his start in learning to experiment with various chemicals. It wasn't long after that Ky learned how to make black powder, which led to him creating his very first rocket motor. When Ky was 15 years old, he raced his first car: a 1934 Ford 3 window coup. From then on, Ky had a need for speed. Ky built a twin engine motorcycle that set numerous records around the country, but he was not satisfied with the speed. In 1960, Ky built his first rocket-powered vehicle: a rocket-powered motorcycle. In 1969, Ky built a rocket-power snowmobile that made it into the Guinness World Book of Records. After accomplishing his first world record he decided to go after every acceleration record in the world. In 12 years, Ky's rocket-powered vehicles set 72 state, national, and international speed records. One day he received a call from a stuntman in California by the name of Dar Robinson, Hollywood's premier stuntman. Dar asked Ky to come out to California and work with him to develop innovative stunts and stunt equipment that had never been seen before. Ky and Dar worked on 17 shows for “That's Incredible.” From there they ended up working on a number of Burt Reynolds's movies and eventually got their own primetime television show, "The World's Most Spectacular Stuntmen." Overall, Ky has worked on over 200 films, television programs, and commercials, as well as the majority of stunt specials that have been seen on TV over the past 30 years. Literally hundreds of feature articles have been written about Ky and his adventures. Through the years, Ky has created and run many successful businesses. Today, Ky is retired from the world of business, so he can concentrate full time on rocketry. He is the Program Director of “SPACESHOT 2003” -- the grand effort of the Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) to build and launch the first amateur rocket into space. This was successful on May 18, 2004. He also is a major partner of Orbital Expressways, Inc., a start-up commercial rocketry endeavor with the lofty goal of low-cost space access for everyone. You can read more about Ky at his website,

Ky "Rocketman" Michaelson battled the government, gravity and a profound learning disability to become the first civilian to launch a rocket into space. A drag racing legend and Hollywood stunt king, Michaelson has dedicated his life to pioneering space exploration, often from his own garage and backyard.

As a young boy in Minnesota, Ky dreamed of being an astronaut, but severe dyslexia caused him to leave school in the 9th grade. Lured by the racing world, Ky used his "mechanical photographic mind" to build and race rocket-powered snowmobiles, motorcycles and hot rods. (As well as rocket-powered boats, wheelchairs, sleds, bicycles, jet packs, La-Z-Boys, roller skates and jet packs.)

He and his cars eventually set 72 state, national and international records – and caught the attention of Hollywood. Ky and famed stuntman Dar Robinson worked together on 200+ films and TV shows, revolutionizing the industry on movies like Burt Reynolds' "Stick" and "Smokey and the Bandit", and on TV shows like "That's Incredible."  Looking for a new challenge, Ky started going after every amateur rocketry record in the country. Then, he decided to take on the dream of a lifetime: To become the first civilian to send a rocket into space.

He was up against teams with unlimited resources, but he was undaunted. With a band of like-minded backyard rocketeers, Ky formed the Civilian Space eXploration Team, and together they battled sandstorms, government stonewalling, explosions and crashes in their quest for the stars. On May 17, 2004, Ky and the Civilian Space eXploration Team launched their GoFast rocket a documented 72 miles into space.   Ky lives in his beloved home state of Minnesota, where he speaks at schools, gives tours of his private museum, consults on film and TV projects, and builds something almost every day. He overcame his dyslexia to write an autobiography "Rocketman: My Rocket-Propelled Life and High-Octane Creations". A documentary about his life story, "Rocketman", is currently in production, with more information at

Broadcast 2682 Ky Michaelson

Guest:  Ky Michaelson;  Topics:  amateur rockets to space, rocket powered vehicles, movie stuntman, dyslexic issues.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website,  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use.

Broadcast 2437 (Special Edition)

Guest: Ky Michaelson, originally aired on February 25th, 2007. Topics: Building & launching an amateur rocket to space. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use.

Broadcast 837 (Special Edition)

Ky Michaelson returned to the program to discuss his new book, "Rocketman: My Rocket-Propelled Life and High-Octane Creations." This book is widely available and I urge listeners to buy and read it, and by listening to this show, you will understand the why of my recommendation. Visit Ky's website at His email address is During this program, Ky related to us many of his stories and adventures with speed, cars, rockets, and space.

Broadcast 675 (Special Edition)

Ky Michaelson was the guest for this special Space Show program. We began the discussion with Ky by asking him how he got involved and interested in rockets and then to the point, how he was able to launch the amateur rocket to space which his Civilian Space eXploration TEAM (CSXT) did in 2004. As you will hear from the discussion, fighting the government and regulatory environment proved every bit as challenging as building and flying the rocket but as Ky said, he paved the way for others and it should be easier for others to follow what his CSXT accomplished.

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