Feeds

DRAMA at 75,000 FEET: Our Playmonaut's TERROR PLUNGE from EDGE of SPACE

Plucky Reg operative finally found in remote valley

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Pics We're delighted to report that our plucky Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) playmonaut pilot is safe and well, following his dramatic rescue yesterday from a Spanish mountainside.

What started as a routine test flight of the igniter for our Vulture 2 spaceplane's rocket motor, launched in perfect conditions southwest of Valladolid ...

The LOHAN team prepares to launch

The balloon just before launch

... and rising majestically above the plains of the province of Castilla y Leon ...

The view from the CHAV Picam on the ascent

... took a turn for the unexpected when the balloon burst at 23,000m, well short of the expected 32,000m.

Our new playmonaut - undeterred by the sad fate of his illustrious veteran predecessor, who was tragically lost at sea after an earlier LOHAN test flight deviated from plan - was at the controls of the Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV) aircraft, slung under the main payload box. For a bit of fun, we'd decided to use the igniter to cut down the CHAV at the aforementioned 32,000m, after which it would glide majestically to earth.

The playmonaut in the cockpit of the CHAV aircraft before the launch

Well, that plan went titsup due to the premature emptying of our mighty helium-filled orb, so the plane came down with the payload somewhere in the mountains south of Avila.

Here's a map, with the red line showing the course of the balloon:

Map showing the track of the balloon

We lost the radio signals from the aircraft's onboard Raspberry Pi, and the main payload's Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board and back-up PAVA tracker, as the whole shebang disappeared behind a mountain ridge.

With only the expected landing position to work with, we were obliged to drive as close as we could get, in the hope of reacquiring radio contact.

Cue a challenging drive up a dirt track...

One of our pursuit cars seen from the other as we ascend a dirt track

...and a sunset yomp by Dave Akerman and Rob Eastwood to a ridge from where they hoped to get a sniff of the payload. Remarkably, just as the sun was about to set, Rob managed to get a fix with a handheld antenna:

Rob Eastwood with the antenna

Obviously, a night-time rescue was out of the question, so the next day myself and Dave Akerman jumped back in the van and plotted a route to to take us as close as possible to the landing site, at 40.504211,-4.944428 (.kmz here):

The landing site as seen on Google Earth

Once we'd driven around 7km up the obligatory dirt track...

A view of the dirt track, as seen from the recovery van

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.