Headlines > News > Canadian team's bid for international space prize completes safe test run

Canadian team's bid for international space prize completes safe test run

Published by Cathleen Manville on Sat Aug 14, 2004 6:42 pm
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chabot imageTORONTO (Canadian Press) – One of two Canadian teams vying for millions of dollars and a place in space-travel history successfully completed a test run Saturday of part of their aircraft.

The Canadian Arrow squad is one of 26 teams from around the world working furiously toward winning the $10 million US Ansari X prize. The honour will go to the first team that safely launches and returns a privately developed three-person craft 100 kilometres into suborbital space twice within 14 days.

From a height of 2,400 metres Saturday, the Canadian Arrow dropped an unmanned crew cabin from a helicopter and five minutes later, it floated safely into the waters of Lake Ontario, just south of the Toronto Island Airport.

Geoff Sheerin, team leader for the project based in London, Ont., said the test went better than planned.

“We had prepared for different things going wrong and we didn’t have to use any of those preparations,” Sheerin said.

Once the cabin had landed safely in the water, divers swam out to recapture the parachutes.

The parachutes will be dried out and repacked within two weeks to ensure that step of the process can make the X-prize requirement of the quick turnaround.

The stipulation of 14 days between two flights is meant to ensure the craft is reliable and the requirement of space for three people on board is designed to prove room for potential tourists.

Sheerin said the Canadian team’s next test will be to see if they can safely abort the crew cabin after a rocket launch.

“If the astronauts were on top of the booster, and there was a problem with that booster and they had to leave immediately, if they were in danger, these rockets would pull that crew cabin away,” Sheerin explained.

While the Canadian Arrow hasn’t announced a launch date for the full 17-metre-long craft, the rival Canadian team in the race said earlier this month they will launch on Oct. 2 in Kindersley, Sask.

The Toronto-based da Vinci Project has named their black cylindrical craft Wild Fire.

On Aug. 8, a Washington team taking a stab at the prize suffered a setback, when their rocket Rubicon 1 malfunctioned and exploded after shooting less that 300 metres in the air.

The first private manned spaceflight took place in June, when SpaceShipOne, a craft funded by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by aviation pioneer Burt Rutan, reached the required altitude on a test flight.

The SpaceShipOne team plans to make its first X Prize qualifying flight in late September.

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