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Da Vinci Project announces X Prize launch
Updated: Thu, Aug 5, 2004, 6:14 PM ET (2214 GMT)
Originally Posted: Thu, Aug 5, 2004, 1:54 PM ET (1754 GMT)
Wild Fire suborbital RLV illustration (da Vinci Project) The da Vinci Project, a Canadian entrant into the Ansari X Prize competition, announced Thursday that it plans to make the first of two X Prize qualification flights in early October, thanks to funding from an online casino. The project plans to fly its suborbital vehicle, Wild Fire, on October 2 from the town of Kindersley, Saskatchewan; a second flight would be required within two weeks of the first. The flight announcement, made at a press conference Thursday in Toronto where Wild Fire was unveiled, was made possible because of a title sponsorship deal with the online casino GoldenPalace.com, with the effort now called "The Golden Palace.Com Space Program, Powered By The da Vinci Project". The value of the sponsorship was not revealed, but last week da Vinci team leader Brian Feeney said he needed on the order of $500,000 to pay for the two flights. The casino's logo will appear on Wild Fire, and the company even claimed in a press release that Feeney would carry a laptop with him on the flight "in order for his team to enjoy the GoldenPalace.com casino games on their trip to sub-orbital Space." The Wild Fire vehicle will be carried aloft from by a helium balloon, and at an altitude of nearly 25 km it will fire its rocket engine for a ballistic suborbital flight, landing with the aid of a parachute and ballute. GoldenPalace.com is an online casino based in a Native American community in Quebec. The company is most infamously known for hiring a number of streakers to promote the casino at sporting events, including the Super Bowl NFL championship game earlier this year. Wild Fire is now in a space with SpaceShipOne, the suborbital vehicle developed by Scaled Composites. Last week Scaled announced that SpaceShipOne would make the first of its two X Prize flights on September 29, with the second planned for early October.
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