The seasick astronaut

Today’s Toronto Star has an article about Terry Wong, a member of the astronaut corps of Canadian Arrow/PlanetSpace first announced back in 2003. Wong, a Canadian Forces pilot, used to suffer something that would seem to be a disadvantage to a pilot or astronaut: airsickness (including an incident on his first solo airplane flight that required a bit of maneuvering.) He doesn’t suffer from airsickness now, but seasickness is another story: “I’m no good in a boat if the water’s rough.”

There are a few interesting items in the article beyond Capt. Wong’s motion sickness woes. The seasickness is an issue because the Canadian Arrow spacecraft will splash down in the Atlantic after launching from the Cape Breton spaceport in Nova Scotia, starting around 2010, according to the article. However, when the Cape Breton project was announced in August, it was intended only for orbital flights of its Silver Dart orbital spacecraft, not the suborbital Canadian Arrow capsule, which would operate from a “Midwestern” state. Earlier this month, when Ohio was revealed as that Midwestern state, the focus was on suborbital flights of the Silver Dart, a winged vehicle that could land on a runway, rather than the Canadian Arrow capsule that requires a water landing. (To make things more confusing, the spacecraft described later in the article does sound like the Silver Dart.) Has there really been a change in plans, or is the company (inadvertently) sending out mixed messages?

Wong also tells the Star that NASA is taking Canadian Arrow and PlanetSpace “seriously”, including offering unspecified technical expertise. “They know we can do this,” Wong said. Does that mean PlanetSpace has a Space Act agreement with NASA (something hinted at in the original report about the Cape Breton spaceport), or something more informal? Wong adds that Canadian Arrow has “partnership deals” with undisclosed aerospace companies in the US and Canada.

However, the best line of the article is not about space, but about Wong’s preference for flying helicopters rather than jets. “It’s nice to take off in snow in Moose Jaw and a couple of hours later be warm in Vancouver. But I like helicopters, too. It’s great to be able to land, pee and fly on.” The ultimate in quick turnaround time.

1 comment to The seasick astronaut

  • Ferris Valyn

    I am glad to know that I am not the only one confused by the situation involving Planetspace and Canadian Arrow. And their website does nothing to help eliminate the confuson

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