Feeds

El Reg to unleash rocket-powered spaceplane

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

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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]

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.