Rockets into space

I've got to admit that I'm pretty happy that the first X-Prize attempt is scheduled for my birthday. That said, in some ways I'm more excited about the progress that the folks over at the Toronto-based daVinci Project have made. Rutan and his crew at Scaled Composites were given $25 million by Paul Allen. Now, $25 million isn't a lot of money in aerospace terms, but it's still a lot of money. They had tons of cash and a large team of industry professionals. No one is surprised they could do it.

The daVinci Project on the other hand, which is just up the street at Downsview airport, has built their spaceship for something like $350,000 Canadian (about a quarter million dollars USD) and almost exclusively volunteers. They're rolling it out next Thursday and are planning for a launch later this fall. If they pull it off, the money they spent to do so is a fraction of what Scaled has put into their ship.

I'm a big fan of these low-budget projects — my other favorite (although they're not Ansari competitors) is JP Aerospace who have been launching more and more impressive versions of their “inflatable” station (“Dark Sky Station”) which sits at about 120,000 feet up (and an airship takes you to it, and then you transfer to a second airship takes you into orbit itself). What's really cool about this company is that they've been giving away space for microsatellite-type experiments to local schools and so on.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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