The da Vinci Project - Canada's First X-Prize Competitor
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Sun Microsystems of Canada and da Vinci Project Team up to Take on the Final Frontier - Sun sponsors Canadian Entrant in the X PRIZE® Competition - Toronto/Markham, Ontario, October 8, 2003 – Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. (Sun) and the da Vinci Project are teaming up to build and safely launch its first reusable, manned spacecraft into sub-orbit, the two organizations announced today. The technology sponsorship represents a big boost for the da Vinci Project as it furthers its Canadian entry into the $10 million X Prize Competition, an international contest aimed to kick-start the manned commercial space industry.

As an "Official Technology Products Partner" of the da Vinci Project, Sun is providing the Canadian team with a broad range of powerful hardware and network cluster tools for design simulation and virtual prototyping. Sun tools will power applications like FEA (Finite Element Analysis) and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), which are key processes in substantially reducing engineering costs and improving time-to-market for aerospace designers and engineers. “

At Sun, we have 21 years of relentless innovation under our belts,” said Stéphane Boisvert, President of Sun Microsystems of Canada. “Our role in supporting the da Vinci Project is another example of our commitment to incubate and showcase new applications that utilize proven technologies, including those that take advantage of networking and integrated software solutions.”

Leveraging Sun Blade 2000 scalable multi-processor workstations and state-of-the art Visualization Tools, the da Vinci team was able to:

  • reduce the time to run stress analysis tests on the spacecraft;
  • solve complex analytics problems, that were previously too large to solve with less robust hardware;
  • cost-effectively exploit the potential of integrating a variety of software solutions; and
  • enhance graphics that enable the team to visualize how spec changes impact the entire design of the spacecraft before its construction.

Dr. Vladimir Kudriavtsev, head of da Vinci engineering team, views Sun’s contributions as key to the success of the program. “This sponsorship allows direct integrated analysis of the flight hardware during the preliminary design phase, thus reducing product development phase down to six months while cutting product development costs by several million dollars.” "Like Sun, the da Vinci team is dedicated to innovation and this sponsorship further validates our goal of leveraging technology to help a small Canadian team realize its dream of pioneering an international space travel industry," added Brian Feeney, Team Leader and Pilot. "Not only has Sun equipped us with the world’s best in class technology, they have positioned us to build our spacecraft from design to final-stage testing and performance validation”.

The da Vinci Project began its vehicle development shortly after the X PRIZE was announced in 1996, although the team officially entered the competition in 2000. To date, there has been developmental testing of the spacecraft propulsion system, flight guidance system, manned flight simulator, satellite based communications and pending launch approval from the Canadian government. Detailed engineering and fabrication of the manned rocket is currently ongoing. Flight-testing of the manned rocket is targeted in early 2004.

"The X PRIZE Competition is all about speed, innovation and opening new frontiers -- areas similar to the computer revolution of the 1980's and 1990's in which companies such as Sun helped to make happen", said Dr. Peter Diamandis, Chairman X PRIZE Foundation. “We are delighted that Sun Microsystems of Canada has shown vision and foresight in becoming a sponsor of the da Vinci Project in their quest to win the $10 million X PRIZE and we welcome the participation of other visionary and pioneering high tech companies in opening the space frontier."

About  Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc.:

Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Sun Microsystems, Inc., is headquartered in Markham, Ontario. The company, which employs more than 550 persons, has offices in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria. Sun products and services are also available through Sun Authorized Independent Sales Organizations and iForce(SM) partners across Canada. For more information, visit http://ca.sun.com.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision -- "The Network Is The Computer"(TM) -- has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that make the Net work. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the World Wide Web at http://sun.com.

About the da Vinci Project:

The da Vinci Project's aim of capturing the X Prize, the international “New Race to Space®” is backed by a core of volunteers from many walks of life and disciplines. Aerospace engineers, experts in project management and finance contribute their time and expertise towards the realization of the next step in Human discovery. The da Vinci Project’s novel rocket design will be launched from the world’s largest reusable helium balloon at an altitude of 80,000 feet (24,400 meters) soaring to a peak altitude of over 100 kilometres.

To learn more, visit www.davinciproject.com

About the X PRIZE:

The X PRIZE competition, the first-ever space-based incentive competition, follows in the footsteps of more than 100 aviation incentive prizes offered early last century, that created today's $300 billion-dollar commercial air transport industry. The most significant of these prizes was the Orteig Prize, won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 flight from New York to Paris. To win the $10 million X PRIZE, a spacecraft must be privately financed and constructed with the ability to fly three people into space. It also must be reusable, flying twice within a two-week period.

For additional information on the X PRIZE Foundation and Competition and the more than 20 teams from around the world, visit the X PRIZE Foundation on the web at www.xprize.org.

For more information about the da Vinci Project or Sun, please contact:

Brian Feeney
The da Vinci Project
416-434-7470
bfeeney@davinciproject.com
Ian Murphy
Federal City Communications
202-498-7267
fedcity@nationalpress.com
Shirley Horvat
Sun Microsystems of Canada
905-513-4856
shirely.horvat@sun.ca
Caroline Verboon
MAVERICK
416-640-5525 x226
carolinev@maverickpr.com
 
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