is filled with the exploits of ordinary individuals doing extraordinary
things and whose accomplishments propel human progress. Uncommon thinking
and independent action has advanced our general knowledge throughout
history. The famous of these are revered as heroes and children are
taught about them in school. Everybody has heard of Aristotle, Copernicus,
Isaac Newton and Marie Curie but few are aware of the risks each of
them undertook and the personal sacrifices they endured to pursue their
singular innovations and discoveries.
to the European renaissance, our understanding of the earth, moon, sun
and stars was steeped in mysticism and superstition. The prevalent belief
held that the earth was the centre of the visible universe. People who
openly challenged that conventional order risked their very lives.
opposed the conventional geocentric belief and postulated a heliocentric,
sun-centered theory. Fortunately for Copernicus, he withheld this radical
viewpoint until he lay on his deathbed and thus escaped persecution.
Giardano Bruno, an Italian monk, was not so fortunate. His observations
led him to openly proclaim that the universe was infinite and that the
earth, moon and sun were among untold millions of insignificant stars
that shone in the sky. He was tried for heresy and burned at the stake
in a Roman piazza.
intellectual successor, Galileo, the first person to observe celestial
bodies with a telescope, not only confirmed Bruno's observations but
went on to assert that there were mountains on the moon and that the
earth revolved around the Sun. He too was tried for heresy but at the
last moment recanted and lived many more productive years.
associated with invention and discovery have changed over the centuries,
but there are still dangers, some life threatening, inherent in every
attempt to push the boundary of the known into the unknown. The da
Vinci project, while an exciting and appealing challenge, contains
certain risks. When, after months of design and testing and the application
of some very sophisticated aerodynamics, physics, and engineering, Brian
Feeney finally dons his space suit and straps himself into the pilot's
seat of the rocket, there will be no turning back.
first private astronaut must face several possibilities for failure
during the launch and return sequences. The design methodology behind
the vehicle is to minimize these risks through redundant backup systems.
Should the engines fail to ignite and develop full equal thrust in less
than 100 milliseconds, an automatic stop fuel flow and fuel dump sequence
takes place, prior to the rocket having been released from its tether
to the balloon.
redundant sensors will monitor the condition of the engines and levels
of thrust. At any time in the flight sequence as the rocket engines
are firing, and it is determined that an unsafe or potential failure
condition is possible, the flight computer will automatically shut down
the engines and dump the fuel.
balute can be deployed at anytime in the flight sequence to stabilise
the rocket in an abort situation. The rocket is also equipped with a
full axis Reaction Control System to aid in stabilisation.
area of the balute includes the high temperature heat shield for re-entry.
The technology and materials employed are from existing and proven re-entry
systems. The rocket has a main parachute for soft landing. In an emergency
the high drag balute is capable of delivering the rocket fully stabilized
to the ground with a minimum force impact that would yield little damage
to the rocket. The astronaut is equipped with a primary and secondary
parachute system. The capsule is also separable from the vehicle at
any stage in the flight sequence and is capable of re-entering the atmosphere
at the maximum velocity of Mach 4 or 4,000 kph (2500 mph). The rocket's
primary parachute is attached to the capsule.
every conceivable precaution will be taken to avoid or effectively minimise
these dangers, this historic event will still be a First, experienced
by one lone man who will have to deal with any unexpected changes from
the planned flight sequence. Brian's pioneering predecessors Orville
and Wilbur Wright and Charles Lindbergh risked their own lives in piloting
their own inventions, and did not delegate the task to someone else.
Brian Feeney will demonstrate those same qualities of character, commitment,
professional integrity and bravery upon which our future aspirations
in space ultimately depend.
luck Brian… and Godspeed.