It's hats off to Tennessee X-Plane ace Billy Bargagliotti this fine Monday morning, as we announce he's wrapped no less than four virtual versions of our Vulture 2 rocket ship.
Billy (above) answered our call back in June for someone to construct a virtual spaceplane, rolled out the prototype in July and has now earned himself a hearty round of applause for the final result.
The four models are available right now for your flying pleasure here. The quartet of Vultures comprise two liquid rocket powered "trainer" versions and a pair of "vertical launch" models simulating the actual Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission. Notes are included with the download to help you along.
Agreeably, X-Plane.org also boasts some nice Spaceport America scenery, so you'll be able to fly in New Mexico, as did we this morning. First up, this is the all-new panel view in one vertical blast-off model, with the balloon still in lift mode:
In this model, the Vulture 2 has a mocked-up launch rod, which detaches when you cut balloon lift and hit the "JATO" button - actually the solid rocket motor igniter. Note spaceplane design nipper Ariadne's artwork, lovingly reproduced:
Before you try the full-fat mission model, though, give the liquid-fuelled motor trainer a run. It'll give you about 20 minutes of powered flight, enough to get off the ground at Spaceport America...
...and enjoy a simulated dive-bombing attack on Virgin Galactic rival spaceplanes...
...before gliding gracefully towards the runway:
Billy described the X-Plane work as "a very frustrating task to build something that small and lightweight", but it has not exhausted his apparently limitless energy.
He's now putting together an Edgley Optica EA-7, and will then tackle a Borg cube. He explained: "After the difficulties of building this super small Vulture, I think that I want build build the largest thing that X-Plane can handle. And I want stability at Mach 250 and above."
Quite right too. As soon as they're delivered, we'll be sending a couple of LOHAN mugs Billy's way, as he requested, and a few other goodies from among our Kickstarter rewards.
With 20 days left to run on our campaign to get the real Vulture 2 to the real Spaceport America, we're doing rather well, but we still need full-on reader support to hit our goal. ®
More from the lovely LOHAN:
- You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
- If you're new to LOHAN, seek out our mission summary for enlightenment.
- There are photos our our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane here, and detailed structural plans here.
- For your further viewing pleasure, we have all our photographic material stored on Flickr.
- Our LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) videos live on YouTube.
- We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.