Feeds

LOHAN's fantastical flying truss takes to the air

Experimental structure last seen heading for Africa

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Infographic

Video We're pleased to report that last weekend the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) fantastical flying truss finally got off the ground, and we've got some video of the test for your viewing pleasure.

Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphicThe plan, as regular readers will recall, was to see just how a triangular truss performed as a potential launch platform for our Vulture 2 spaceplane.

In traditional garden shed engineering style, we put together a model of the structure from balsa wood, with a view to trying out a few possible lifting configurations.

Here are the trio of proposed set-ups, and there's more on the thinking behind our cunning truss lift plan right here:

Graphic of our three proposed flying truss configurations

Well, in an attempt to save time and money, we first attempted to get off the ground using party balloons and a small bottle of helium bought over the interwebs.

The result had plenty of comedy value for local spectators, but showed a distinct lack of the Right Stuff:

The flying truss with balloon clusters

Cue a long drive to get a proper bottle of helium and some more substantial orbs, and apprentice boffin Katarina and Portuguese builder Rui (the latter temporarily seconded to the Special Projects Bureau from his bricklaying duties), were ready to roll:

Katarina and Rui prepare to launch the flying truss

Mercifully, the flying truss flew at the second attempt...

Katarina with the flying truss ready to go

...and here's a short vid of the helium-fuelled tomfoolery:

The verdict is this: one balloon to lift the truss, which will be angled upwards to the maximum possible inclination the diameter of the fully-inflated balloon allows.

And yes, since you ask, we can put a really long tether between the balloon and the truss to get the Vulture 2 as vertical as possible before launch.

So, how will the spaceplane be attached to the truss? You'll note in the pics and video that we suspended the truss with one flat face down – the opposite of how it's shown in the concept graphic above.

There's a good reason for that, because while supping a few ales last week we had a bit of a lightbulb moment as to how to mount the Vulture 2 underneath the structure, allowing it to launch freely without recourse to any form of release mechanism.

We'll have more on that on Friday, with a graphic to show how it'll work. In the meantime, our beloved reader experts are invited to speculate on just how we reckon we've cracked the problem. ®

Further LOHAN resources:

  • New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • All the LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vids live on YouTube.
  • For our SPB photo archive, proceed directly to Flickr.
  • We sometimes indulge in light tweeting, as you can see here.

A tip of the hat to our LOHAN associates

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
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
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
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
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?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.