...But Could Canadians Come From Behind?
The da Vinci Project, an X PRIZE contender based in Toronto, Canada, announced last week that it is ready to launch a test flight later this year, and will announce a date by the end of this month. Computer designer-turned-astronaut Brian Feeney told AFP News, "We are going for it, it's getting exciting." Feeney said the competition is turning into a "David and Goliath" race as his team, funded by a host of smaller sponsors, goes up against Rutan and his billionaire backer. Feeney plans to fly to about 80,000 feet in a 15-foot-long Wildfire rocket strapped to the world's largest helium balloon. At altitude, he will fire the twin rocket engines and blast into stratospheric sub-orbit for five minutes, then float down to a landing via parachute. Feeney plans to launch from a remote site in western Saskatchewan.