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Dave Akerman's emergency cut-down box

Our LOHAN rocket ship team exits Spain with a bang

It's been a hell of a couple of weeks at the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters, as we took delivery of our Vulture 2 spaceplane, welcomed the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team to sunny Spain and then spent a frantic 10 days putting things together, blowing stuff up and rescuing lost playmonauts …
Lester Haines, 23 Sep 2013
The components of our Vulture 2 laid out before assembly

Our sensational rocket ship Vulture 2 REVEALED: LIVE at 3pm

Cue the traditional fanfare of trumpets, because this afternoon at 3pm UK time, we'll be whipping the covers off our sensational Vulture 2 craft for the first time: so you can get an idea of just what the world's first 3D-printed, rocket-powered spaceplane looks like. Here's the beast in component form last week, straight out of …
Lester Haines, 20 Sep 2013

Live now: LOHAN igniter test flight

The Register's mighty Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is, as you read this, in the field preparing a second test flight of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's rocket motor igniter assembly, following Monday's dramatic first attempt which ended on a Spanish mountainside following premature balloon burst. Click here for a …
Lester Haines, 19 Sep 2013
The bare SPEARS PCB

Our second attempt to give LOHAN a good banging: Live tomorrow

The Register's mighty Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is gearing up for a second test flight of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's vital rocket motor igniter assembly, following Monday's dramatic first attempt which unfortunately ended on a Spanish mountainside without the essential test firing carried out. Click here …
Lester Haines, 18 Sep 2013
A view from the main payload GoPro

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

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 …
Lester Haines, 18 Sep 2013
The LOHAN team prepares to launch yesterday

LOHAN hero playmonaut STRANDED on Spanish mountain

The Special Project Bureau's mountain rescue team has been mobilised today to recover our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) playmonaut – stranded since yesterday on the side of a Spanish mountain. What should have been a routine test flight to put our improved rocket motor igniter through its paces ended dramatically …
Lester Haines, 17 Sep 2013
The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN test flight LIVE: All the launch action

As you read this, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is preparing the test flight of our all-new custom rocket motor igniter. We need to know once and for all if we can get a rocket motor to ignite at altitude, following our first pop back in July. That ended with the igniter's E-Match going bang, but with the …
Lester Haines, 16 Sep 2013
Spain

Radioaficionados españoles: Echadnos una mano

Este lunes 16 de septiembre a las 2 de la tarde el equipo LOHAN (Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator) lanzará un globo meteorológico cerca de Piedrahita (Avila). Necesitamos la ayuda de los radioaficiondos españoles y portugueses para recibir señales de nuestros cuatro transmisores a bordo: CHAV (434.075MHz), BUZZ (434.200MHz …
Lester Haines, 16 Sep 2013
The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN Spanish team touches down... to prepare for lift-off

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team members touched down in Madrid last Thursday night, and after a few beers and some refreshing kip, were ready to pose for the camera before getting down to spaceplane business. The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2 Above (from left to right) we have Rob Eastwood, Claire …
Lester Haines, 16 Sep 2013
Paper Aircraft Released Into Space

LOHAN doomsday box dubbed BRASTRAP

The results of our reader poll are in, and we're delighted to report that our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) doomsday box will forthwith be officially known as the Big Red Abort Switch To Release Aerial Payload, aka BRASTRAP. Dave Akerman's emergency cut-down box So, it's congratulations to reader Steve Davis for …
Lester Haines, 12 Sep 2013
Ther unopened box containing our Vulture 2 spaceplane

Here at last, our 3D beauty: Vulture 2 spaceplane flies in

Cue the traditional portentous drumroll, fanfare of trumpets and roar of the crowd as we announce that yesterday evening, a bloke in a white van rolled up to the door of the SPB's mountaintop headquarters bearing a big box... The unopened box containing our Vulture 2 spaceplane ....containing the components of the Low Orbit …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2013
The French rocket contingency pose for a group shot

In pictures: El Reg hooks up with rain-lashed Spanish rocketeers

Take one muddy airfield, persistent rain and a cluster of brave souls huddled under pop-up gazebos and you've got the perfect recipe for a rocketry shindig. "You've brought the weather from your country, then," quipped one member of the Spanish tentacle of the Tripoli Rocketry Association as I rolled up on Sunday morning to a …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2013
Flag of Republic of China

400 million Chinese people can't speak Chinese: Official

In very agreeable news for those who fear that everyone on homogenised Planet Earth will eventually end up speaking an unholy mix of English, Chinese Mandarin and Spanish – with a soupçon of Portuguese, Russian, Hindi and Javanese thrown in for good measure – the Chinese authorities have admitted that 400 million of their …
Lester Haines, 10 Sep 2013

Ultralight party balloons in WEEK-LONG marathon flight

A couple of ultralight balloon payloads have for the past week traced suggestive paths over Europe, and continue to transmit from the skies over Belarus and Bulgaria (click pic for a bigger version): The rather phallic tracks of the balloons seen on spacenear.us Leo Bodnar's B-11 and B-12 missions were launched from Blighty's …
Lester Haines, 09 Sep 2013

Vulture 2 autopilot reports for duty

As you can imagine, it's all go here at the Special Projects Bureau's mountaintop headquarters ahead of the imminent arrival of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Blokes in white vans have been bowling up to the door for the past month, their couriers' …
Lester Haines, 09 Sep 2013
Dave Akerman's emergency cut-down box

Vote NOW to name LOHAN doomsday box

Right, you lovely people, the time has come to name our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) doomsday box – the device which will, if required, command the mission's onboard Iridium-Arduino sandwich to release the mighty helium-filled orb carrying our Vulture 2 spaceplane aloft in case of emergency. Dave Akerman's …
Lester Haines, 06 Sep 2013
The 'Little Nellie' autogyro used in the Bond film 'You Only Live Twice', with designer Ken Wallis at the controls

Autogyro legend Ken Wallis hangs up wings at 97

Wing Commander Ken Wallis, who soared to international fame at the controls of James Bond's Little Nellie, has died at the age of 97. The former RAF Wellington bomber pilot passed away at his home in Norfolk on Sunday, the end of an illustrious career which saw him set the 3km speed record for autogyros (207.7km/h), and - most …
Lester Haines, 05 Sep 2013
Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic

LOHAN cops a faceful of smutronyms

There's nothing quite like a Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) backronym challenge to bring out the sniggering schoolboy in our beloved spaceplane fans. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Earlier this week, we challenged you lot to come up with a snappy name for our mission abort box - in the best …
Lester Haines, 05 Sep 2013
A montage of our LOHAN cameras

LOHAN slowly strips lens caps off hi-def imaging arsenal

It's all go at the Special Projects Bureau's mountaintop headquarters as we await the imminent delivery of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Vulture 2 spaceplane, currently being hewn from the living nylon down at 3T RPD Ltd. We've got plenty to be getting on with while we wait for the bloke in the big white …
Lester Haines, 04 Sep 2013

South Carolina couple cop cuffing for shed shag

An amorous South Carolina couple copped a cuffing last Wednesday while allegedly making the beast with two backs inside a Home Depot display shed. According to the Smoking Gun, cops were called to the DIY chain's North Charleston branch shortly after 8.30am "in reference to a male and female entering a display shed on the …
Lester Haines, 03 Sep 2013
Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK

WIN a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms module

As followers of our epic Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will know, we recently laid our grubby mitts on a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms unit, courtesy of Rock Seven, and we're now giving one linguistically deft reader the chance to do the same. Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK In fact, this is …
Lester Haines, 02 Sep 2013
Jack's hands remove powder from a round the wing

Vulture 2 spaceplane rises from the powdered nylon

There's mounting excitement here at the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters as we prepare to receive the parts of our Vulture 2 spaceplane. Our chums down at 3D printers 3T RPD Ltd have just dusted off the outer wings and wingtip rudder assemblies, seen here in these rough CAD views. The top couple of images show …
Lester Haines, 30 Aug 2013
Cannabis leaves

Dopey dope-growing dope smoked out by own dope dope-growing vid

A New Hampshire judge has jailed an Auburn dope-grower who inadvertently blew his cover in a series of YouTube vids of his marijuana cultivation operation. Police were alerted last year to Kyle Berry's handy online guides, but the cops did not require the services of Sherlock Holmes to lead them to his home's weed-packed …
Lester Haines, 29 Aug 2013
Miley Cyrus twerking

Selfie twerks its way into the dictionary

Our beloved and accommodating mother tongue is officially a few words richer with the announcement that the Oxford Dictionaries Online, from the chaps who bring us the Oxford English Dictionary, has gathered "selfie" and "twerk" into its lexicographical embrace. Our net-savvy readers will need no introduction to selfie, which is …
Lester Haines, 29 Aug 2013

Air mattress blast blows German man across room

A German chap who attempted fix a leaking inflatable mattress with "industrial strength" puncture repair spray prompted an industrial strength blast which caused €150,000 (£129,000; $200,600) worth of damage to his rented gaff. The unnamed 41-year-old had just moved into a house in Diepholz in Lower Saxony and, being a bit short …
Lester Haines, 27 Aug 2013

Bionic Brit Babbage Bear boards brilliant balloon, bests ballsy Baumgartner

We're delighted to report that Raspberry Pi mascot Babbage Bear wrested the world skydiving record crown from Felix Baumgartner on Monday - by leaping into the void from a breathtaking 39,000m. Stepping from his foam launch platform, Babbage took the plunge into the history books, pipping the Austrian's 38,969m jump, as this …
Lester Haines, 27 Aug 2013
Babbage and the Raspberry Pi rig before insertion into Babbage. Pic: Dave Akerman

Rasp Pi skydive: Ballsy Baumgartner best beware Brit bionic Babbage Bear

Austrian high-altitude geezer Felix Baumgartner had better watch his back, because there's a furry Brit contender for the world skydiving record preparing to leap into the void from a breathtaking 39,000m. Tomorrow (Saturday), weather permitting, Raspberry Pi Mascot Babbage Bear will ascend to the stratosphere over the green …
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2013

Our Vulture 2 spaceplane sprouts sleek pointy beak

The nylon dust has almost settled on the epic design and build saga of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Vulture 2 spaceplane as 3D printer 3T RPD Ltd fires up the machine to craft the last pieces of our revolutionary aircraft. Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, the crack design team of Southampton Uni postgrads - …
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2013

3D printers stroke LOHAN's shapely midriff

Those UK readers living close to rapid prototyping firm 3T RPD Ltd's Newbury headquarters are invited to open their windows and listen for a distant whirring sound as our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Vulture 2 spaceplane is meticulously hewn from the living nylon. Last week, the crack team of Southampton Uni …
Lester Haines, 21 Aug 2013
forks reforking

Oz sawbones extract fork from old boy's todger: Gents, start your wincing

Sawbones at Canberra Hospital have published an illuminating, if eye-watering, account of how they extracted a 10cm fork from a septuagenarian's penis. According to the report by doctors Krishanth Naidu, Maurice Mulcahy and Amanda Chung, published in the The International Journal of Surgery (PDF, images NSFW), "a 70-year-old man …
Lester Haines, 21 Aug 2013

In case of LOHAN flight emergency, gobble THIS Iridium-Arduino sandwich

We recently reported that we'd laid our grubby mitts on a second RockBLOCK Irdidium satellite comms unit - courtesy of Rock Seven. Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK The RockBLOCK, pictured above, can "send and receive short messages from anywhere on Earth with a view of the sky", and it's this latter capability which has …
Lester Haines, 20 Aug 2013
The flying rooster seen in the stratosphere

Portuguese chicken invades Spanish airspace

A plucky Portuguese cockerel has added extra weight to the theory that model aircraft and High Altitude Ballooning payloads are magnetically drawn to trees by soaring to a heady 33,252m before crash landing in a bewildered Spanish villager's fig tree. The flying rooster seen in the stratosphere The Galo de Barcelos (Rooster …
Lester Haines, 19 Aug 2013

Flab-fighting LOHAN fettles fantastical flying truss

Amid all the excitement surrounding the imminent appearance of the Vulture 2 spaceplane, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has been beavering away on the fantastical flying truss which will carry our magnificent aircraft heavenwards. For LOHAN newbies, and those of you who haven't been paying attention at the …
Lester Haines, 19 Aug 2013
A detail of the Breaking Bad lab

Attention, addicts: LEGO meth lab pays homage to Breaking Bad

Fans of Lego and TV series Breaking Bad can now put together their very own miniature methamphetamine lab, assuming they've got pretty deep pockets. The Lego Breaking Bad lab with figures The Citizen Brick "Superlab Playset" features 500 pieces and three minifigs, designed to offer solace to those "bummed out" that Breaking …
Lester Haines, 16 Aug 2013
The Register breaking news

Is NASA planning to send LAVA LAMPS to Jupiter?

You know how it is: you're crashed on the sofa quaffing a beer and staring pensively at your hypnotic lava lamp when you're suddenly struck by the overwhelming desire to find out if the 1960s design classic* would work on Jupiter. Well, the good news is that Google software engineer Neil Fraser has answered this vital galactic …
Lester Haines, 14 Aug 2013

Vulture 2 spaceplane flies to the 3D printing press

It's a portentous timpani drumroll, a tremendous fanfare of trumpets and a huge roar from the crowd as the first parts of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Vulture 2 spaceplane are hewn from the living nylon down at 3D printers 3T RPD Ltd. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Yes indeed, ladies …
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2013

ULTIMATE cuppa contenders prepare to go mug-to-mug

We're one step closer today to deciding the ultimate cuppa with the announcement of the 12 contenders which will go mug-to-mug in the pursuit of tea perfection. Our crack team of shopping experts has braved multiple supermarkets in search of your nominations, and we're set to turn the matter over to our panel of tasting experts …
Lester Haines, 09 Aug 2013
Artist's representation of the Skylon. Pic: Reaction Engines

Brit Skylon spaceplane moves closer to lift-off

The European Space Agency (ESA) has chipped in €1m to study the viability of the Skylon spaceplane concept - a radical single stage to orbit (SSTO) vehicle whose motors use "a synthesis of elements from rocket and gas turbine technology". Artist's representation of the Skylon. Pic: Reaction Engines The Skylon According to the …
Lester Haines, 07 Aug 2013
mad_cyclist

Bloke straps shed to Ford Zephyr and chases it on bike

Reg reader Richard Smith has called for one Brit to be awarded a Special Projects Bureau medal after strapping a shed to a Ford Zephyr and and chasing it on a bicycle. Custom bike frame wrangler Tom Donhou hit 128km/h as he powered his improbably-geared machine behind the classic motor. The project wasn't planned to break the …
Lester Haines, 07 Aug 2013
The Register breaking news

Behold, replica Nazi-code-cracking Colossus computer IN LEGO FORM

A Lego fan's miniature representation of the famous codebreaking Colossus Mark 2 has agreeably gone on show at Bletchley Park, where the original machine did vital wartime work breaking Germany's Lorenz ciphers. James Pegrum's homage to Colossus is entertaining visitors as part of the The National Museum of Computing's (TNMOC) …
Lester Haines, 06 Aug 2013
The Register breaking news

Transdimensional rift appears above Australian bolt supplier

Shaken Oz reader Christopher Scott has been in touch to say he's just stumbled upon a transdimensional rift, spotted by Street View's all-seeing eye menacing Ringwood, Victoria: Strange tear in the fabric of space time in the skies above Ringwood It's difficult to ascertain just what lies beyond this sinister portal ripped …
Lester Haines, 05 Aug 2013
Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK

LOHAN lays mitts on second Iridium sat comms kit

We're pleased to announce that the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has got its grubby mitts on a second Iridium satellite comms unit, courtesy of Rock Seven. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Those of you who've been following our audacious spaceplane mission will recall we took delivery of …
Lester Haines, 02 Aug 2013
The Tardis seen against the curvature of the Earth

Who's who: 12th Doctor has been chosen, will meet you on Sunday night

The question of who will be the 12th incarnation of Doctor Who will be answered this weekend in a live TV special, the BBC has declared. Milking the appointment of the latest Time Lord for all it's worth, the Corporation will dedicate 30 minutes to the matter on BBC 1 on Sunday from 7pm. Fronted by Zoe Ball, the programme "will …
Lester Haines, 02 Aug 2013
The Register breaking news

LOHAN serves up Raspberry Pi sensorgasmotry

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is battling away on several fronts ahead of next month's launch of the Vulture 2 spaceplane, and while there's still plenty of work to do, we do at least have the mission electronics fit for duty. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Our recent test flight of …
Lester Haines, 01 Aug 2013
Animated gif of the LOHAN team

SPEARS joins the 19-mile-high club: Intimate snaps

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is just about done sifting through the photos and vid from our recent test flight of the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board, and we hereby present highlights for your viewing pleasure. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic …
Lester Haines, 26 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

'Wandering Dago' tuck truck ejected from NY race track

The owners of a fast-food truck are bemoaning their ejection from a New York horse racing track, after the powers that be deemed its snappy name "Wandering Dago" a tad offensive to Italian Americans. Wandering Dago proprietors Andrea Loguidice and Brandon Snooks (pictured below) had secured a spot to sell their nosh to punters …
Lester Haines, 26 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Hooker in Dudley man's car 'just helping to buy tomatoes'

Walsall magistrates found themselves strangely unconvinced by a Dudley man's claim that a prostitute found in his car was helping him buy tomatoes. Coppers eyeballed the "known sex worker" in Muhammad Ikhlaq's Nissan Micra in Walsall on 9 May, "apparently waiting for the driver to return from a nearby cash point", as the …
Lester Haines, 25 Jul 2013

IT Crowd thesp eyes giant hot-air-filled FLYING SCROTUM

Actor Chris O'Dowd is backing an audacious plan to constuct an enormous flying 'nad sack - an "impossible to ignore" hot-air-filled scrotum designed to "combat the ignorance of testicular cancer". Here's The IT Crowd man himself giving the background to the Male Cancer Awareness Campaign's "Skyballs": As you can see, the …
Lester Haines, 25 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Burger-rage horse dumps on McDonald's: Rider saddled with fat fine

A Greater Manchester woman has found to her cost that if you turn up on horseback to a McDonald's drive-through window and are refused service, it's probably unwise to then lead your mount into the restaurant and let it crap on the floor. The unnamed horse-lover rolled up to the fast food outlet on Bury New Road, Whitefield, on …
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Middle America pulls up sagging pants menace, belts repeat offenders

It's evident that despite the best attempts of Middle America to crack down on sagging pants - da yoof's low-slung kecks look that has right-minded citizens firing up the Twat-O-Tron - the US way of life continues to be menaced by trousers flying at half mast. Back in 2007, the Louisiana town of Delcambre took up cudgels against …
Lester Haines, 22 Jul 2013