Saturday, August 21, 2004

We Have To Get in This Race

Debate about the $10-million US Ansari X Prize contest, which aims to put a privately funded craft capable of carrying three people into space twice in 14 days, is raging on Internet sites.

The rules require one passenger and the equivalent weight of two adults aboard official flights.

I've got some ideas that would require modifying a potato gun. I have a few friends who know the ins and outs -- TJ and Travis. I'll just go along for the ride.

Sophisticated aerodynamics, physics and engineering will propel Brian Feeney's attempt at the world's first private space mission, but these measures won't eliminate the danger of his planned launch from Kindersley and subsequent return to Earth.

When the Torontonian dons his space suit on Oct. 2, he risks being killed in an explosion or in a spectacular crash should his rocket engines fail to ignite or should the balloon that is supposed to carry him on the first leg of his journey deflate.

"If there are any problems, the chances of surviving are zero," said Ted Llewellyn, a professor of engineering and physics at the University of Saskatchewan.

"The temperature at 24 kilometres is not warm. It's colder than Saskatoon in the middle of winter. The polyethylene balloon can become brittle and if it goes upwards too fast, it could shatter."

The balloon, reputed to be as big as three football fields, should also be a concern before it ever starts reaching for the sky.

"This thing's going to be so big on the ground that any wind greater than one kilometre per hour is going to kill him," said Llewellyn.

Feeney is not presently doing interviews.

I had better wear my winter coat. The cool thing is if my potato starts to cook -- Free French Fries!! Yumm. And by the way, I will do ALL the interviews!


No comments: