Wakefield started the project in 2001 after a comet believed to hold the Mandragora Helix was projected to pass by Earth and planned the Dauntless flight to intercept the comet, and initially planned to the inaugural flight himself, and bought all tickets to that effect, offering Sarah Jane Smith a place alongside him. Ultimately however, Wakefield passed away before the scheduled launch date, as he predicted, and his son Josh Townsend, also a member of the White Chapter, went in his place.
The launch took place at the Dreamland Air Base, Nevada, with Smith, Townsend and pilot Ben Kimmel aboard. En route to the extraction point however, Kimmel cut communications to Earth and revealed himself to be a member of the Crimson Chapter, planning to martyr himself and kill Sarah and Josh, believing the comet prophecised the "End Days" foretold in Giuliano's Book of Tomorrows. Townsend and Kimmel killed each other in a gunfight and severely damaged the Dauntless' systems in the process, effectively stranding Sarah in space, in the path of the comet, with failing life support and a vision of something she felt she'd been searching for. Sarah managed to restore the communications long enough to bid farewell to Natalie Redfern before losing contact completely. NASA apparently intended a rescue mission to save her, despite the Dauntless being too far out for conventional shuttles to reach. A news report on the loss of the Dauntless described it as a "serious blow" to independent space tourism. (AUDIO: Dreamland)
In an interview, pilot Ben Kimmel dismissed claims by NASA that the Dauntless was essentially "a paper dart strapped to a jet engine", in turn saying that NASA was threatened the "elegant" design[statement unclear], which essentially would make them redundant. (AUDIO: Dreamland)