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The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN spaceplane 'Punch and Judy' test flights live online

If you're looking for some light entertainment this fine April morning, then tune in to the live launch of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) "Punch" and "Judy" test flights. Dave Akerman and I are at Blighty's Baikonur in Herefordshire, determined to get two mighty orbs aloft. The live feed from the launch site is …
Lester Haines, 10 Apr 2014

LOHAN chap hooks up with busty stratominx in cosmic pleasure cruise

The Register's Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has expressed its shock and dismay that member Dave Akerman has chosen to play away from home with a lads' mag busty stratominx. Dave's a veteran of countless balloon launches, and is regularly approached by people in bars asking to be "taken to heaven and back". …
Lester Haines, 07 Mar 2014

LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday

Following last weekend's cancellation of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) "Punch" and "Judy" test flights due to high winds, the team is relieved to announce that Thursday morning is looking good for a second pop. Saturday's planned missions were scuppered by excessive gustiness at the Herefordshire launch site, …
Lester Haines, 09 Apr 2014

LOHAN's Punch and Judy show is GO for Saturday

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) "Punch" and "Judy" test flights are go for tomorrow (Saturday 5 April), and as ever we'll be streaming proceedings live over the interwebs so you make yourselves a nice cuppa, kick back and follow the action live from the comfort of your PC. First up, we have the Punch rocket motor …
Lester Haines, 04 Apr 2014

LOHAN gets intimate with 50,000 hot-blooded pilots

It's all go on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) avionics front, what with handsome young autopilots springing into life and Raspberry picams snapping fetching spaceplane selfies, so this seems like a good moment to point those in search of the more esoteric aspects of the mission in the direction of our DIY Drones …
Lester Haines, 19 Feb 2014

LOHAN preps Vulture 2 for hot vinyl wrap

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has some good news and some bad news today. The good news is that we've finished the paint element of of Vulture 2 spaceplane's livery, and it looks absolutely magnificent. The bad news, for you lot at least, is that we're not going to show our beloved readers just how …
Lester Haines, 28 Mar 2014
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

LOHAN buffs body for sizzling vinyl wrap

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission continues to attract enthusiastic and expert support from around the world, and following the welcome news last week that we're getting a bit of help with the Vulture 2 spaceplane's autopilot, we're delighted to announce that said rocket ship is poised to get the sizzling …
Lester Haines, 25 Nov 2013

Reg readers fret over misty-eyed LOHAN

Our heads-up last week on the Vulture 2 spaceplane's miniature Raspberry Pi camera (Picam), prompted some readers to express concerns that we were heading for trouble in the imaging department. Here's the camera in question... A close-up of the Picam ...and here it is glued into the underside of the aircraft's nose: The …
Lester Haines, 17 Feb 2014

Punch and Judy face Blofeld in LOHAN doomsday box test

As we recently announced, the British contingent of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team will assemble in Blighty on 5 April for the final test flights before the launch of our Vulture 2 spaceplane. Watch Video The first stratomission, dubbed "Punch", will lift a small Cesaroni rocket motor to 20,000m to …
Lester Haines, 14 Mar 2014
Double Facepalm; when one facepalm is not enough.

Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco

It's while standing in the corner of the room wearing pointy hats emblazoned with a big "D" that the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team admits today that the blown fuse which scuppered our recent Punch test flight actually went pop back in September last year. Youtube Video Yes indeed, during the test flight of …
Lester Haines, 16 Apr 2014

LOHAN bloodhound unleashes solar-powered minitracker

Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project with a particular interest in the radio electronics side of spaceplane missions will doubtless enjoy a first look at a new miniature tracker from team member Anthony Stirk - the sleek black PAVA 9. Anthony's PAVA 9 tracker Anthony's PAVA programme was inspired by …
Lester Haines, 19 Mar 2014
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

LOHAN embraces handsome young autopilot

We invite fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project to raise a glass or two today to UAV specialist 3D Robotics, which has very kindly agreed to offer our Vulture 2 spaceplane a brain transplant in the form of the mighty Pixhawk autopilot. Two views of the 3D robotics Pixhawk As LOHAN regulars know, our …
Lester Haines, 04 Dec 2013
The LOHAN team prepares for launch this morning

Reg LOHAN spaceplane: Punch and Judy show in comedy non-explosive climax

It's with more than a degree of staring at the heavens in exasperation that we confirm what those of you watching the live coverage of yesterday's Punch and Judy test flights had already deduced - that the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team failed to make fire in the sky. Dave and Anthony prepare for launch as …
Lester Haines, 11 Apr 2014
Fire flames come from chamber as lid blows off

Middle England trembles before roaring LOHAN

There are only a few days left before our planned "Punch" and "Judy" flights on Saturday 5 April, so a slightly sooty Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is pleased to report that we've wrapped the final ground-based rocket motor tests in the Rocketry Experimental High Altitude Barosimulator (REHAB) hypobaric …
Lester Haines, 02 Apr 2014
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

LOHAN develops amazing mind-reading powers

There's been a lull in the flighting on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) front over Xmas and New Year, but the team has emerged from the festivities revitalised and ready for action. In December, we announced that 3D Robotics had kindly agreed to supply the mission with an all-new Pixhawk autopilot, to replace the …
Lester Haines, 17 Jan 2014
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

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

LOHAN's mighty thruster poised for hot coupling

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 …
Lester Haines, 04 Nov 2013

LOHAN team gears up for Punch and Judy show

It's all go on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) front as the British contingent of the team gears up for the forthcoming "Punch" and "Judy" test flights. On 5 April, we'll assemble at the new "Blighty's Baikonur" (formerly in Berkshire, now relocated to Herefordshire) to launch two balloon payloads. The first …
Lester Haines, 31 Mar 2014

Heroic Playmonaut wowed by LOHAN's bulging package

Following the recent successful fitting and testing of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's Raspberry Pi and Picam rig, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is relieved to announce that we've wrapped the permanent installation of the rest of the aircraft's avionics. What's more, our heroic Playmonaut now has the proper …
Lester Haines, 10 Mar 2014

LOHAN chap brews up 18% ABV 'V2' rocket fuel

It hasn't escaped some readers' attention that our Vulture 2 spaceplane's moniker might handily be abbreviated to "V2", which got Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team member Paul "Lord Shax" Shackleton thinking about rocket fuel, and indeed fuel for the human elements of our audacious ballocket mission. Hitler's …
Lester Haines, 26 Feb 2014
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

LOHAN cops a faceful of Raspberry Pi

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is methodically working its way through the installation of the Vulture 2 spaceplane's electronic systems, and having got the Pixhawk autopilot up and running, we were able to turn our attention this week to the onboard Raspberry Pi. LOHAN regulars will know that we use a …
Lester Haines, 14 Feb 2014
The Space Graphics Solutions team poses with the wrapped Vulture 2

LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane

Cue the traditional portentous drumroll and fanfare of trumpets as we reveal today the finished livery of our Vulture 2 spaceplane – a provocative combination of paint job and vinyl wrap which is, frankly, the mutt's nuts. Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will recall we asked readers back in …
Lester Haines, 19 Apr 2014

Cheeky LOHAN chaps in gutsy snatch at El Reg's paper spaceplane crown

In an audacious and extremely cheeky high altitude operation over the weekend, Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team members Dave Akerman and Anthony Stirk had a pop at our Guinness World Record for the highest-altitude paper plane launch. The SNOW aircraft The underside of the SNOW aircraft The pair's SNOW …
Lester Haines, 31 Dec 2013

Final LOHAN test flights codenamed 'Punch' and 'Judy'

The grand finale of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) saga is approaching, and is now so tantalisingly close you could almost reach out and stick a match to it. It's been a long, winding road, to be sure, but we still have a few things to wrap before we can finally see what happens when you stick a rocket motor in …
Lester Haines, 25 Feb 2014

LOHAN's handsome young autopilot springs into life

It's been a couple of weeks since the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team took delivery of a brand-spanking new 3D Robotics Pixhawk autopilot for the Vulture 2 spaceplane, and we've now whipped out our original ArduPilot Mega (APM) 2.6 and hooked up the new kit for a quick test. Here's the Pixhawk up and running …
Lester Haines, 06 Feb 2014
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
Picture by Afonso Lima

LOHAN's vital statistics splashed across fruity display

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission has just been served an extra slice of Raspberry Pi in the form of an all-singing, all-dancing balloon chase system. Hydrogen helium head honcho and electronics wrangler Dave Akerman decided haring around the countryside in pursuit of mighty orbs would be a whole lot easier …
Lester Haines, 22 Oct 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

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

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 painted nose of the Vulture 2, with its yellow upper and led underside

LOHAN sees bright red over Vulture 2 paintjob

It's been a week of tin-rattling and seeing red here at the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters as we finally knuckled down to slapping some paint on our Vulture 2. We threw the matter of our magnificant spaceplane's livery over to you, our beloved Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) fans, and you responded …
Lester Haines, 13 Nov 2013
The Register breaking news

LOHAN seeks rocketeer for explosive relationship

Despite an apparent lull of late on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) front, we are moving apace towards finally getting our Vulture 2 aircraft aloft. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic There have been some dramatic developments recently regarding a launch site for our audacious ballocket mission …
Lester Haines, 08 Mar 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
Blofeld's white cat

LOHAN twangs BRASTRAP to unfetter mighty orbs

Capping a hectic month for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team - in which we revealed the magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane, rescued our heroic playmonaut from the side of a Spanish mountain and finally got a rocket motor igniter to go bang at 20,000m - we're delighted to report that the Big Red Abort Switch To …
Lester Haines, 27 Sep 2013
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

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

LOHAN team girds loins, aims to take SPEARS to heaven again

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is girding its loins ahead of this weekend's second test flight of the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic SPEARS is designed to fire the Vulture 2 space plane's rocket motor by means …
Lester Haines, 08 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Readers, we need you... for LOHAN ignition failsafe brainwaves

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is inviting experts among our super readers to submit final proposals for a back-up ignition system for our Vulture 2 spaceplane's mighty rocket motor. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic As SPB ballocket regulars know, the primary system designed to light …
Lester Haines, 19 Apr 2013
The Register breaking news

LOHAN team regroups for second pop at SPEARS

Fans of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) spaceplane project should mark Saturday 13 July in their diaries, because that's when our elite team will once again assemble in Blighty's Baikonur* for the second test flight of the Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) board. Click here for a bigger …
Lester Haines, 04 Jun 2013
The LOHAN team prepares for launch this morning

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

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. Watch Video As you can see from the above timelapse video of the launches last Thursday, we did finally get off the ground after a …
Lester Haines, 16 Apr 2014

Raspberry Picam magic: More snaps from LOHAN's fruity eye in the sky

A Sony factory in South Wales churned out its millionth Raspberry Pi this week, so we thought it would be a good moment to bring readers more from our "Pi In The Sky" camera rig, which has performed to spectacular effect during test flights for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission. Click here for a bigger …
Lester Haines, 11 Oct 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
The Register breaking news

LOHAN premieres intimate REHAB vid

As the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team continues to advance inexorably on various front towards the launch of our Vulture 2 spaceplane, we've taken a bit of time to look back at our REHAB experiment. LOHAN fans will know that the purpose of the Rocketry Experimental High Altitude Barosimulator was to test solid …
Lester Haines, 25 Jan 2013
The Register breaking news

LOHAN to join mile-high club with BRITNEY or NAOMI?

The time has arrived to officially name the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission control board - the electronic heart of our audacious ballocket spaceplane mission. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Ta very much to all those readers who chipped in with acronym/backronym suggestions, even if a …
Lester Haines, 16 Nov 2012

LOHAN rocket motor igniter goes pop at 20,000m

Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission will know that the issue of getting a rocket motor to fire at altitude has given our Vulture 2 spaceplane team plenty of sleepless nights. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Last year, we constructed the Rocketry Experimental High Altitude …
Lester Haines, 26 Sep 2013