Sci Station Canada

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Da Vinci and Cape Kindersley in Saskatchewan

SCOTT SIMMIE of the Toronto Star has done an excellent feature on the effect that the Da Vinci X-Prize attempt will have on Kindersley — a town whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed with the oil that's pumped from beneath the parched land of southwestern Saskatchewan ... [it is] potentially unbelievably lucrative. A bare minimum of 5,000 space visitors are expected (about 100 more than Kindersley's population). Then there are the hordes of media, the X Prize officials and sponsors (numbering 1,000), plus Brian Feeney's entourage.

"Just between myself, my friends and my family it'll be quite a platoon," laughed Feeney during a recent interview in Toronto. In total, the invasion could reach 50,000, perhaps even more.

"It's huge. Really huge," says Brenda Burton, development officer with the Regional Economic Development Authority. ... The town has only 300 hotel rooms and a handful of restaurants. "Nowhere near what you'd need to feed that many people. So it's a big undertaking,"

What is even more enlightening is further down the page ...

Feeney knows people are waiting. But it is, after all, a high-stakes race. As much as he'd like to, he just can't give anything away. There are others after this prize, too, including American aviation ace Burt Rutan (considered by some to be the front-runner).

"I can appreciate that everyone wants to know. I'd love to tell them," said Feeney, who does have a date scheduled. But he won't even confirm if, as local rumour has it, the launch will take place `in a month that starts with J.'"

"We want to beat Mr. Rutan," said Feeney. "If we come out with a date any sooner than we absolutely have to, it's like: `Here's our date, come and beat us.'"

As I suspected Feeney is on the final approach in stealth mode - I'll lay any odds you like he does have a launch permit in his pocket!


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