Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/20/lohan_truss/

LOHAN flashes fantastical flying truss

Experimental Vulture 2 launch platform

By Lester Haines

Posted in SPB, 20th February 2012 13:38 GMT

It's taken us a while, and a not inconsiderable amount of head-scratching, but we've finally come up with a design for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) launch platform.

Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphicThose of you who've been following LOHAN will recall the invitation to our beloved readers to present their best ballocket launch concepts, which attracted some top-notch ideas on the best way to carry our Vulture 2 vehicle aloft.

We took all these suggestions on board, and found further inspiration here, following a tip-off from a reader who reckoned a triangular truss suspended between two balloons offered the best solution.

We were inclined to agree, and in the best garden shed boffinry tradition, set about putting together a model of a LOHAN flying truss. Cue some 6mm balsa wood dowels, and the Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) jig methodology deployed on the construction of our Guinness World Record Vulture 1 aircraft:

Balsa wood dowels coming together in our assembly jig

Here's one face of the truss progressing nicely. We used Super Glue to speed up the build, but reinforced the joints after assembly with PVA wood glue...

Diagonal dowels in place on one face of the truss

A sheet of balsa provides a platform for mounting test equipment...

Launch platform glued to one face of the truss

...as you can see here on one finished face of the truss (two metres long, in case you were wondering):

The first face of our flying truss

Then it was just a matter of forming the triangular section...

Creating the triangular section

...and sticking in the diagonal braces...

The finished truss structure

...before applying a coat of high-vis paint and handing the structure to apprentice boffin Katarina for the official roll-out photo:

Apprentice boffin Katarina poses with the finished truss

We're just waiting on a bottle of helium and some balloons, and once they turn up we'll see if the thing flies with a camera attached.

Note that our cunning plan involves using the truss "upside down", but we're pretty sure it's strong enough in this configuration, which has the clear advantage of offering a substantial level launch platform and plenty of horizontal area to mount other kit, as you can see in our new LOHAN mission summary (click on image for a bigger version):

A graphic guide to the phases of our LOHAN mission

So, next up is a test flight for our model structure, and if it does the job we'll get to building a full-size version from carbon fibre tubes. Expect dramatic video footage of the fantastical LOHAN flying truss in due course...®

Further LOHAN resources:

A tip of the hat to our LOHAN associates