Feeds

LOHAN's mighty thruster poised for hot coupling

Rocket motor heater reports for duty

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

As the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team preps our Vulture 2 spaceplane for a quick paintjob, we're still mulling just how best to connect the aircraft's rocket motor heater to its external battery supply.

To rewind for those of you who may have inexplicably missed the LOHAN hot coupling excitement, we've got a space-grade Polyimide Thermofoil flexible heater which will prevent the rocket motor casing from catching a nasty chill as it heads stratowards:

Our Polyimide Thermofoil flexible heater

There's more on the motor toaster and initial testing here, which demonstrated the effectiveness of a layer of space blanket and heatshrink as we wrapped the whole shebang around an aluminium tube:

The aluminium tube wrapped with the heater, space blanket and heatshrink, prior to heating

Well, we've now got the real Cesaroni 54mm motor case...

The heater wrapped around the Cesaroni motor case

...and persuaded it to pose in an unclad state in the Vulture 2's rear fuselage:

The rocket case in the rear fuselage of the Vulture 2

One big concern is that in the absence of air at altitude, the heater could melt down. LOHAN team members Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk have experienced electronics overheating during their own high-altitude balloon jaunts, so we've launched a pre-emptive strike on the potential problem, in the form of a simple 12V aquarium thermostat:

The thermostat and LiPO battery for our rocket motor heater

The thermostat weighs virtually nothing, and runs off the same LiPo battery as the heater, offering a temperature control range of -50°C to 110°C. It'll sit with the battery in the electronics enclosure of our fantastical flying truss, monitoring the temperature via a thermistor:

The thermistor taped to the rocket case

Here's the complete rig, with the heater sealed around the motor case:

The complete rocket motor heater set-up

One unexpected bonus of the thermostat is that it'll cut the supply to the heater if the thermistor is disconnected. So, once the Vulture 2 thunders off the flying truss's launch rod, there's no chance of exposed 12V coupling cables shorting and provoking a LiPo inferno.

That said, we're still no closer to determining the best way to couple the heater to the aircraft. LOHAN fans have already weighed in with suggestions (summary here), and you'll recall that our own preference was for a magnetic solution.

Well, we managed to get hold of some miniature neodymium magnets with electrical tails, which quickly showed the plan didn't have legs since we could easily suspend the entire aircraft from just two of them.

Accordingly, we're reviewing your previous concepts and are, as ever, open to new ideas. Whatever we decide, we'll have to sort it sharpish, before wrapping the Vulture 2 paintjob. ®


Further LOHAN resources:

  • New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • Join the expert LOHAN debate down at Reg forums.
  • 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 consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

LOHAN - A Special Projects Bureau production in association with...

  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo
  • Random Engineering logo
  • Space Graphic Solutions logo

Paper Aircraft Released Into Space

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.