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Canada's da Vinci team still reaching for the stars

Published by Robin on Tue Oct 12, 2004 12:49 am
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BREAKING NEWS Canadian Press
UPDATED AT 7:31 PM EDT Monday, Oct 11, 2004

Saskatoon — A representative for the Canadian group that hopes to launch the world’s second private spaceship will visit Kindersley, Sask., this week, but it’s unlikely he’ll be announcing a date for the blast-off.

“We’ll fly when we’re ready, when all of the safety issues have been addressed, all the components are ready and we’re satisfied. The rocket is very close to being ready,” said David Grossman, team leader of ground operations for the da Vinci Project team.

The Toronto-based team was originally scheduled to blast off from Kindersley on Oct. 2 with a second attempt scheduled for several days later. But the group said it had to cancel the attempts when a supplier couldn’t deliver a necessary part for its rocket in time.

A U.S. rocket plane piloted by Brian Binnie and designed by Burt Rutan already claimed the $10-million (U.S.) Ansari X Prize earlier this month. SpaceShipOne met the prize’s criteria of a privately-built spacecraft that could reach an altitude of 100 kilometres twice within two weeks, and carry a payload equivalent to three people.

The da Vinci team had been among several in the world that were also competing for the prize, but organizers for the Canadian effort have vowed to proceed despite SpaceShipOne’s success.

Mr. Grossman said he will meet with emergency officials, as well as half-a-dozen RCMP detachments when he arrives in Kindersley on Wednesday.

“You just never know whose territory it’s going to land in,” Mr. Grossman said.

Kindersley’s economic development officer, Brenda Burton, said Mr. Grossman’s visit indicates the team is serious about sending a man into space from the Saskatchewan prairie.

Ms. Burton, who is also a member of the “Cape Kindersley” steering committee, said people in the province were beginning to question the credibility of the project.

“The steering committee never felt it wouldn’t happen but certainly from a media and community standpoint, there has been a question mark,” Ms. Burton said.

Mr. Grossman will also meet with school groups and the public as part of his visit, which is scheduled to last until Friday.

“I’m one of the first guys from Toronto from the da Vinci Project to come out there and talk to people,” Mr. Grossman said. “Everybody wants a piece of me.

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