The Register's Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) team have been left baffled following reports from our Spanish ground pursuit unit, which has now reached the site at which the main PARIS supra-atmospheric balloon launch podule plunged to Earth earlier today.
It appears that the balloon module performed precisely as designed, soaring 89,590 feet to the very brink of space then descending - following pre-planned rupture of its helium lift unit - by lavishly crafted parachute to land in a tree on a hillside outside the small town of Pelayos de la Presa in central Spain.
Our team reports that the Vulture One paper spaceplane did in fact separate from the main payload module - it is nowhere to be found at the landing site and the release mechanism, rigorously tested in cutting-edge hypobaric facilities prior to flight, appears to have functioned as designed.
Unfortunately Vulture One's tracking unit didn't perform nearly as well as that of the balloon (nothing was recorded by the APRS system) so its whereabouts and that of its intrepid plastic pilot are unknown: the paper spaceplane and playmonaut could be as lost as Steve Fossett following his aircraft's disappearance.
However, PARIS radio operator Steve Daniels believes that he may have picked up a single ghostly position report from Vulture One during the pursuit team's hair-raising dash across central Spain. Reg scribe John Oates, embedded with the ground unit, reports that they are now setting out on a quest for the lost craft - hopefully not as time-consuming as the one for Fossett was.
All here at the London PARIS station - and the rest of the Register's globe-spanning media empire - wish them well. ®
Additional PARIS resources
- Our dedicated PARIS section, with all previous updates, is right here.
- New to PARIS? We have a basic mission summary here (pdf).
- Our Flickr page, for your viewing pleasure.
- Check out our lovely YouTube channel.