Original URL: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/26/spears_snaps/
SPEARS joins the 19-mile-high club: Intimate snaps
Spaceplane test flight mission photos for your viewing pleasure
Pics and vid 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.
Since this is a photo-round up, we're not going into much written detail about the flight. There's more on our heroic Playmonaut's 113,00ft stratodangle here, while you can get details of the SPEARS element of the mission - the control board which fires the rocket's igniter at an altitude of around 19 miles (100,100ft) - here.
We'll bring you full coverage of the mission trackers and Raspberry Picam rig in a dedicate piece next week.
On Saturday 13 July, we assembled at Blighty's Baikonur (Brightwalton in Berkshire) for the big event, to find Dave "Pi In The Sky" Akerman sitting in mission control behind his improbably expansive wall of monitors:
Dave does do low-tech too, though, as this snap of him knocking together lunch proves. Look closely, and you can see the obligatory bacon sitting with the burgers on the barbie. Lovely:
Neil Barnes was the man charged with SPEARS-fiddling, a task which appears to have knocked a couple of years off his life:
Myself and Anthony Stirk, meanwhile, got on with prepping the Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV), a peripheral bit of fun designed to have a pop at our own Guinness World Record for the highest launch of a paper plane...
... and here's Anthony Stirk wrangling a miniature tracker into the CHAV fuselage:
With the CHAV prepped, Anthony and Dave posed for this fetching portrait of two blokes with plane...
...before the whole team assembled at the village hall for the obligatory pre-flight group shot:
From L-R we have rocket motor geezer Paul Shackleton, custom igniter chap Rob Eastwood, apprentice boffin Katarina Haines Barbosa, the aforementioned Anthony Stirk, Neil Barnes and Dave Akerman, plus Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vet John Oates.
Some of you have questioned whether I was actually at the event, having not yet appeared in published photos. I was, and here I am attaching the CHAV to the main payload...
...and explaining how in the future paper aircraft missions will be levitated by amazing anti-grav telekinetic power alone:
Those powers will also extend to firing solid-fuel motors for rocket-powered spaceplanes simply by staring at them very hard. Until then, we'll have to rely on custom igniters, seen below during fettling by Paul and Rob:
While the lads got on with assembling the kit, the unsung heroes of stratospheric missions - their partners, on hand to lend moral support and pitch in the with the photography - wisely decided to seek the shade:
It's a tip of the hat to Julie Akerman (left) and Neil's missus Anita Wegner, seen here with our apprentice boffin.
Dave's the LOHAN hydrogen head honcho, so he's the one who gets to inflate LOHAN's mighty orbs...
...although it was John and Rob who ended up holding the impressive engorgement:
For those of you who missed the live feed of the launch, here's a tasty time lapse sequence video of the whole thing, with a bit of music thrown into the mix:
Behold, the payload aloft
So, once in the air, we were recording video on the main payload camera...
...while the Raspberry Picam in the CHAV's nose grabbed stills:
In pursuit, our impressive six-vehicle convoy pulled over from time to time to check the flight's progress...
...anxiously staring at the live tracker map on a laptop, as Dave's main onboard Windows PC agonisingly installed updates and generally faffed about:
High above our heads, the Picam continued to grab spectacular images from aloft...
...before balloon burst at 34,571m (113,421ft) and a fairly rapid descent. This video has footage from the main payload camera and then a video sequence from the Picam as the plane and payload crashed into trees just south of Perham Down on the edge of Salisbury Plain:
When we got to the scene, we found the payload up a particularly tangly tree...
...which proved no match for Paul and his mighty pruning saw:
After a bit of defoliation, the plane and payload could be gently extracted:
The Picam continued to grab images throughout, and here's how our Playmonaut saw the rescue:
The aircraft was pretty well intact, as the following photos show. The chap in the background in the first snap is Philip Crump, who'd been following the flight live and nipped up from Southampton, arriving at the landing site before us and in time to see the whole shebang crash-land:
Having recovered the plane and payload, the LOHAN team posed for a commemorative group shot:
Actually, they posed for two in quick succession, leading one wag to create this animated gif:
We couldn't help feel we needed some music to go with that, so try this for size:
Lovely. Thanks to everyone who participated in a successful and entertaining mission. ®
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.