Sci Station Canada

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Will Feeney Shoot Or Not?

As hopes of actually winning the X Prize dwindled as SpaceShipOnes' second launch approached, Feeney has always been adamant that they will still go ahead with their own attempt. On September 30th a member on the X Prize message board sent Feeney an open letter that was posted on the board along with his reply. "Bad_Astra" laid it on the line ...
"...many ...feel, perhaps justifiably, that you have been misleading to the public, by using, among other things, imagery of a diving suit prototype model suggestively as a space suit, images of a rocket firing that was not developed by your team, a scale test of a balloon that is not even made of the same material as the one to be used at launch. I realize that a degree of secrecy is necessary in such a project, but it does begin to seem as if there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that Wildfire Mk VI is anything more then a ploy on behalf of Golden Palace. ...Was the Kindersly launch ever actually a serious concern?"

Feeney rose to to reply ...
"In general we are close to making a final commitment to a new launch date. The team had a lot of courage to go forward with a competitive bid with our funding from Golden having only been put into place the first week of August (the beginning of our 60 day notice)...I’ll make no apology for stepping out there. We knew we had an uphill battle and almost everything went as we needed it to. ...I was the last one to be convinced that a temporary hold had to be initiated. As long as a race is on I’ll give no ground and fight, inspire the team to overachieve, exceed there own limitations."

It is well worth reading the full reply as he goes into specific details that I haven't seen elesewhere. On October 2nd he goes into even more detail.

Wired News reported on october 1st that "Transport Canada's Launch Safety Office ...had granted a permit for the team, conduct two launches from a site in west-central Saskatchewan between Oct 2 and Nov 1 ...The main question surrounding da Vinci's volunteer-driven effort now is whether it can launch by Nov. 1 as the new permit requires."

On Oct 4, as SpaceShipOne was gearing up for its' winning flight, skeptical eyes were once again aimed at Feeney who shrugged them off "...if the skeptics really want to be that skeptical, they can start their own space program and see how difficult it is. There's nothing I can stay or do at this time that's going to satisfy the skeptics, so I'm not going waste my time trying to do so" Being under scrutiny hasn't stopped Feeney and the Da Vinci project from being mentioned as possible contenders for the new Americas Space Race

Unfortunately the people of Kindersley in Saskatchewan, where the launch is planned to take off from, seem to have lost faith in Feeney, for as reported in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix of October 21 they report ...
"The town of Kindersley has closed its planning office for the launch of a privately-funded rocket ship. Town organizers say the Cape Kindersley office will remain closed until organizers hear from the da Vinci project's team leader and pilot Brian Feeney about a specific launch date. David Grossman, leader of ground logistics for the Toronto-based team, was in Kindersley last week. He went over plans with local emergency personnel but would not say when the team would shoot for the stars."

My own view is that it will happen but not within the Nov 1st deadline of this launch window however ultimately it will only be a spot in the record books. Perhaps it is the excessive secrecy that Feeney has enforced, but there is no evidence that this project has any commercial plans to back it up. Now Canadian Arrow on the other hand ...


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