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Thu, Aug 05, 2004

Aero-News Alert: Burt's Got Competition

Gentlemen... You Have A RACE

Details are a bit sketchy at the moment, but ANN has learned that Burt Rutan is going to get some real competition for their X Prize attempt this September/October.

Who's challenging Burt?

The Canadian daVinci project, that's who. 

The Canadian da Vinci Project Team, based in Toronto, Canada, made the announcement during a public roll-out of its completed Wild Fire spacecraft, Thursday, Aug 5th, 2004, at its Downsview Airport hanger in Toronto. The da Vinci Project Team, widely heralded as a contender for the $10 million, will pursue its own ANSARI X PRIZE space flight attempt on October 2nd... just days after the first SpaceShipOne X Prize flight.

Wild Fire, the Canadian da Vinci Project Team spacecraft, is launched at high-altitude into suborbital space at 80,000 feet from an unmanned, reusable helium balloon. The Canadian da Vinci Project Team is considered one of the top ANSARI X PRIZE competitors.

"The da Vinci Project Team has made huge strides in the past year and we're excited to finally share Wild Fire with the public," noted Brian Feeney, da Vinci Project Team Leader. "We're in the commercial tourist race for the long haul and while working with an all-volunteer team, we've been able to accomplish major aviation and space milestones in pursuit of the ANSARI X PRIZE."

The American Mojave Aerospace Ventures, LLC Team (a partnership between Paul G. Allen and Burt Rutan and his team at Scaled Composites) announced last week that it had given its official 60-day notice and had scheduled its first competition flight on September 29th, 2004, at the Mojave Airport Civilian Aerospace Test Center in Mojave, California. To win the $10 million, SpaceShipOne will need to make a second flight within two weeks, by October 13th, 2004. During the recently concluded Oshkosh EAA Fly-In, Burt indicated that the second flight was scheduled for October 4th...  the 47th anniversary of the Sputnik launch.

The timing is exciting... and guarantees that the increasing drama surrounding the X Prize competition will continue unabated until someone actually wins the prize. It's no longer a slam-dunk for the highly-regarded team from Mojave... where a lengthy weather hold or other delays for SS1 could conceivably put da Vinci in a position to take the prize.... 

More info to follow....

FMI: www.ansarixprize.org, www.scaled.com, www.davinciproject.com

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