da Vinci Project
The da Vinci Project was a privately funded, volunteer-staffed attempt to launch a reusable manned suborbital spacecraft. It was formed in 1996 specifically to be a contender for the Ansari X PRIZE for the first non-governmental reusable manned spacecraft. The project was based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and led by Brian Feeney.
The original da Vinci Project is no longer operating. A documentary was filmed throughout much of the project's life from 2000 through post-XPRIZE roundup footage in 2008. The documentary accumulated some 1000 hours or so of footage. It was a private undertaking by Michel Jones of Riverstone Productions, Toronto, and as of early 2009 was still in a preliminary stage of editing and completion.
The project last participated in the X PRIZE Cup 2005, displaying a mock-up of its Wild Fire MK Vl spacecraft.
The project's design was a rocket-powered spacecraft to be air-launched from a helium balloon at an altitude of about 21 km (65,000 ft). The project scope included design and construction of both the spacecraft and the launching balloon. The chosen design can be described as a manned rockoon.
History and status
The project was established in 1996. It is named after Leonardo da Vinci, who, among innumerable other inventions, was the first recorded person to design an aircraft. The project was staffed entirely by volunteers.
The project unveiled a mockup of their spacecraft, Wild Fire, on August 5, 2004 at a hangar at Downsview Airport in Toronto. At this point, it was considered a contender for the Ansari X PRIZE, and Tier One had just given notice of their planned competitive flights. When announcing the unveiling, the da Vinci Project also appealed for funds to fly Wild Fire. An agreement was reached with GoldenPalace.com, and the project subsequently gave the required 60 day notice that they would make Ansari X PRIZE competitive flights. GoldenPallace.com, known for its marketing gimicks, will place a soccer ball kicked out of the stadium by David Beckham during the 2004 Euro World Cup inside the space craft.
The da Vinci Project initially announced that it would fly first on October 2, 2004, launching from Kindersley, Saskatchewan. This was only three days after the first expected X PRIZE flight, by Scaled Composites, on September 29, 2004. However, on September 23, 2004 the da Vinci project announced that they would not be ready. Scaled Composites won the X PRIZE on October 4, 2004.
There is no evidence that flight-capable hardware was ever produced by the project.
- Malik, Tariq (24 September 2004). "Canadian X Prize Team Delays Launch Attempt". http://www.space.com/. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Twist, Jo (5 August 2004). "Second team goes for space prize". BBC News. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- David, Leonard (27 July 2004). "The Next Great Space Race: SpaceShipOne and Wild Fire to Go For the Gold". http://www.space.com. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Leyden, John (6 August 2004). "Beckham penalty outrage ball heads for space: bid for infamous sphere". http://www.theregister.co.uk. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- The da Vinci Project home page
- Team Summary Sheet, including design specs
- Daily Planet video: Interview with Brian Feeney about launch delay
- List of private spaceflight companies - A compiled list of private spaceflight companies