Feeds

El Reg to unleash rocket-powered spaceplane

Gutsy 'rockoon' launch for Vulture 2, daughter of PARIS

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

The El Reg Special Projects Bureau (SPB) is pleased to announce we've finally come up with what we reckon is a worthy successor to our Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) project.

After a good deal of mulling as to how we could use our PARIS experience to launch an even more improbable and audacious plan to keep the UK at the forefront of space technology, we've decided that a rocket-powered aircraft is the way to go.

Rest assured, though, that this is no common-or-garden rocket plane plan. Our aim is to launch the advanced vehicle from a helium balloon at maximum altitude, and then ask it to guide itself back to Earth via GPS and autopilot.

A couple of our beloved readers had already suggested a similar aircraft concept after the Vulture 1 triumph, and once we'd coupled that idea to a possible "rockoon" launch, the image of the "Vulture 2" streaking across the stratosphere before gliding autonomously back to base proved pretty well irresistable.

Our artist's impression of how the Vulture 2 might look

The overall plan looks simple enough on the back of the traditional beer mat:

  • Design and test a lightweight composite material aircraft. The vehicle will have traditional control systems (rudder, ailerons, etc), controlled by an autopilot which operates on GPS to fly the machine back to base.
  • Incorporate back-up tracking system, as successfully used on the Vulture 1.
  • Pack in a couple of video cameras.
  • Recruit Playmobil pilot, or Playmonaut, as they're known.
  • Test aircraft and systems in low-altitude flight.
  • Put together a main payload, as per PARIS, incorporating cameras and rocket plane release mechanism.
  • Stick the whole thing under a big helium balloon, let it go, and wait for the fireworks.

Easy as that - sort of. Obviously, the proposed Vulture 2 is a considerably more complex beast than its predecessor, with the rocket motor, electronic systems and control surfaces presenting new challenges to the SPB team.

At the moment, this project (provisionally codenamed "LOHAN"), is simply our proposal. As ever, we'd love to hear your thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticism, which you can throw over via the comments on this story or to me, right here.

And if you lot can't elaborate a suitable full-fat title for the backronym "LOHAN", feel free to suggest alternatives (NAOMI? PORTMAN? GAGA?)

Once we've got some feedback on the rocket plane, we'll do a round-up of your two bits' worth, and proceed accordingly. ®

[Launch Of Helium Augmented 'Naut? Lindsay's Outstanding High Altitude Namesake? - ed]

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
ALIEN BODY FOUND ON MARS: Curiosity rover snaps extraterrestrial
And NASA kept evidence to itself for over a month
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS are FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, though
NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years
ETs, habitable planets will soon pop up with our new 'scopes
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.