Headlines > News > Canadian rocket launch delayed until January

Canadian rocket launch delayed until January

Published by Robin on Sat Nov 27, 2004 8:09 pm
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Unmanned craft will carry a few unique trinkets
by Andy Ogle, The Edmonton Journal, Saturday, November 27, 2004

EDMONTON – When the Da Vinci Project rocket finally makes an attempt to fly into outer space next year, it will carry aloft a soccer ball once kicked by English footballer David Beckham and an Ellen DeGeneres doll dressed in a flight suit.

The doll and the World Cup soccer ball were bought on EBay by Internet casino GoldenPalace.com, the Canadian rocket’s prime sponsor.

GoldenPalace.com recently bought a 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich said to have an image of the Virgin Mary on it, raising speculation that too will fly into space. But the rocket won’t be launched from Kindersley, Sask., until early next year. And when it is, it won’t be carrying pilot and project founder Brian Feeney.

The Toronto-based team, which at one time was a contender for the $10-million US X-Prize for the first private spacecraft to reach suborbital space, now plans to do at least one unmanned test flight first.

Feeney could not be reached for comment Friday but earlier told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix he hopes to do a test launch by the end of January, then rocket into space himself sometime in the spring.

In Kindersley, the local committee put together to help with the launch is still behind the project.

“We’re here and ready when he is,” said Brenda Burton, regional economic development officer and Cape Kindersley committee member.

“For us, a spring launch won’t be a bad thing,” Burton said.

“It will certainly make it a lot easier with some of the logistics and that kind of stuff. We’ve waited this long, so it’s not going to change things much,” Burton said.

A spring launch is also more likely to attract bigger crowds of spectators than an attempt in midwinter in western Saskatchewan.

Feeney had originally hoped to blast off Oct. 2 but couldn’t get all the components needed for the rocket, which will be launched from a giant helium balloon that will carry it to an altitude of 24 kilometres.

On Oct. 4 SpaceShipOne, designed by legendary plane builder Burt Rutan and launched from the Mojave Desert in California, flew above the 100-kilometre target for the second time in five days to claim the X-Prize.

But Feeney has always insisted his team will continue its efforts to put the first private citizen into space from Canada.

The team plans to test fire its rocket engines through December at an old rock quarry in Ontario and is assembling the massive balloon that will carry the rocket to launch altitude.

© The Edmonton Journal 2004

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