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LOHAN's Punch and Judy show: The big fat round-up

All the action from 'Baconur' - Blighty's renamed space flight centre

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The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Pics+Vid The dust has pretty well settled on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Punch and Judy test flights, and we now present for your further entertainment a round-up of the two missions.

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As you can see from the above timelapse video of the launches last Thursday, we did finally get off the ground after a cancellation on 5 April due to excessive wind.

Despite the disappointment, team members (from L-R) Paul Shackleton, Rob Eastwood, Anthony Stirk, Dave Akerman and El Reg's Drew Cullen managed to put a brave face on things...

The LOHAN team prepares for launch this morning

...although Paul probably won't get many bookings for his new sideline as an explosive Jimmy Savile impersonator.

For the second pop, it was left to myself, Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk to get Punch and Judy airborne. When I joined the chaps bright and early at Blighty's Baikonur, near Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire, I found that the site had officially been renamed "Baconur", in acknowledgement of the team's preferred pre-flight nourishment:

Dave Akerman poses with a Baconur sign

Bottles of hydrogen with a 'Baconur' sign in the background

Good show, and it's with the delicious odour of sliced pork sizzling over a hydrogen flame that we bring you details of Punch and Judy...

Punch

The Punch flight was designed primarily designed to finally determine if we could get a ammonium perchlorate composite propellant (APCP) motor to burn in the stratosphere, using a homebrew igniter.

A couple of weeks back, we did successfully fire a small motor at extremely low temperature in the Rocketry Experimental High Altitude Barosimulator (REHAB) hypobaric chamber, so hopes were high.

On board Punch was the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control system, designed to fire the Vulture 2 spaceplane's motor at a predetermined altitude.

Here's the packed payload, minus Anthony Stirk's PAVA tracker, which was mounted in the lid:

The Punch payload and electronics

  1. GoPro 2
  2. Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board
  3. SPEARS, igniter and Raspberry Pi battery packs
  4. Case for "DBcam Hi-Resolution Micro Action Sports Video Camera"
  5. GPS units
  6. Raspberry Pi and Pi in the Sky board
  7. Raspberry Picam enclosure

The Pi in the Sky board is a new breakout for the Pi, which connects via the GPIO. It consolidates all the peripherals of Dave's Pi in the Sky rig, including the Radiometrix NTX2 transmitter, into one handy package. We've got one for the Vulture 2, and will bring you details just as soon as it's installed.

Both the Picam and GoPro 2 were mounted facing downwards, to capture the action as our rocket motor - mounted at the end of a long carbon fibre pole - roared into life.

The enclosure for the rocket motor at the end of a long carbon fibre rod

For a bit of protection, the motor was wrapped in a big wad of padding, as this image from the Picam shows:

View from the GoPro just before Punch launch

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