Feeds

LOHAN's mighty thruster poised for hot coupling

Rocket motor heater reports for duty

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

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

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.