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If You Seek Safety…

The miracle of Google News brings us another clueless editorial (oops, no, it’s “straight news” this time) from an obscure newspaper: Saskatoon StarPhoenix: Da Vinci rocket pilot faces real dangers

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.

Who needs probability when you have certainty?

And then…after predictions of his assured impending demise…the punchline:

Feeney is not presently doing interviews.

And of course, what space-related news item would be complete without a pearl of wisdom from He Who Must Be Quoted:

“I assume anyone who goes up in one of these contraptions has reconciled themselves to the possibility that they might go out in a blaze of glory,” John Pike, director of space policy for the Federation of American Scientists, told

At least Feeney himself has the right perspective:

“There are dangers inherent in every attempt to push the boundary of the known into the unknown,” says his website (

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