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Brian Feeney
Project Team Leader and the completed Reusable Helium Balloon

Worlds Largest Reusable Helium Balloon Completed by Canadian Manned Space Flight Team -TORONTO  December 2, 2004: – The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project announced today that it has completed construction and flight qualification of the “Worlds Largest Reusable Helium Balloon” for its planned manned flights to space. The balloon will carry the projects Wild Fire MK VI manned spacecraft to its launch altitude of 70,000 feet (21,340 meters).

The Balloon was built by the team throughout the late Summer, Fall. “It’s an incredible achievement said Brian Feeney Team Leader of The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project.  It follows years of research and development by the team with input from some of the most talented balloon design and fabrication people on the planet”.

At no time in the program did we think this was something that could not be accomplished. “It was a monumental undertaking. After all the design, engineering and testing we hunkered down and built it said Steven Davies Balloon Production Team Leader”.  “Following months of preparation we turned out the final flight balloon using production equipment built by the project”.

“It’s like everything else in this project said Brian Feeney, we’ve overcome barrier after barrier driving toward our goal of private manned space flight”. We’re definitely moving toward a first flight as early as feasible in 2005”. The projects goal of putting the first Canadian manned spacecraft into space and only the second private team ever is sound. Getting down to it and engineering, testing and building the largest reusable balloon ever is typical of the day to day tasks face by the team. “This team is the most tenacious forward thinking group of volunteers ever assembled.

The 4014 lb balloon made from 4.5 mil thick custom extruded polyethylene sheets, measures 152.7 feet in diameter and 200 feet in length fully inflated. The volume is 3,698,167 cubic feet (104,615 cubic meters) with a near record gross lift capability of 15,270 lbs (6,922 Kgs).

During the summer the project successfully built and flew to 40,000 feet a smaller balloon scaled to simulate all the flight stresses. In the lab test sections of the final balloon were stress tested to 1200 psi, twice the expected maximum stress loads. Balloon section stress tests were carried out over 12 to 24 hour periods, greatly exceeding the actual balloon float time of 2 hours per launch attempt.

“We didn’t stop there says Brian Feeney. As a precursor to building the final balloon, we constructed a second 100,000 cubic foot test balloon. This enabled us to perfect the manufacturing process as well as provide an additional large balloon for field launch testing. We even micrometer tested the thickness of every 400 foot gore, every 12 inches, to be sure the material was within specification”.

Several additional elements are engineered into the balloon design and recovery system to achieve the full reusability needed for multiple flights to space.

About The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project

The Golden Palace.com Space Program Powered by the da Vinci Project's was a leading contender for the Ansari X PRIZE, the international "New Race to Space(R)". The Project 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 Project's novel rocket design will be launched from the world's largest reusable helium balloon at an altitude of 70,000 feet (24,400 meters).

For more information, please call:

Golden Palace / da Vinci Project Media Contact:

Una McAvoy
416-633-2975,   umcavoy@davinciproject.com

 
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