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Tearful LOHAN Playmonaut bids adiós to Spain

Vulture 2 crated and en route to Blighty

Our plucky Playmonaut is feeling a tad emotional today as he prepares to bid adiós to Spain and travel to Blighty with the Vulture 2 spaceplane, before shipping out to Spaceport America.

Our rocket ship is back in LOHAN's substantial box, which will on Monday once again cross the Bay of Biscay, en route to an encounter with the select few of our illustrious Kickstarter backers who bravely stumped to meet the LOHAN team at Vulture Central.

That should prove entertaining for all concerned, but there's another reason we need to shift the plane to the UK, rather than sending it direct to the US of A.

We invite LOHAN fans to raise the traditional pint or two in honour of El Reg's Brid-Aine Parnell, who's managed to obtain - not without tears, it has to be said - an ATA Carnet to smooth things along with customs when we finally touch down Stateside.

Suffice it to say, we couldn't get one in Spain, because we're not a registered business there, so the UK has to be the Vulture 2's point of departure. The ATA Carnet process is entertaining, especially when you're dealing with a custom-built rocket ship and its peripheral kit. Indeed, there are better ways to spend an afternoon than itemising Chinese-made LiPo battery chargers, 12V aquarium thermostats and rocket motor casings.

The job's a good 'un, though, and just when we thought we could finally wrap our notes for the forthcoming 101 Reasons To Reconsider That Audacious Ballocket Mission (available January 2015 from all quality booksellers), we got thrown another curveball.

The Vulture 2 packing case, while largely OSB (oriented strand board), contains some pine, and because of that will require heat treatment in accordance with <ominous orchestral sting> International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 (ISPM 15).

Yes, we know, our beloved commentards already flagged this up, and you were right, and now we have to get the bloody box heated to a minimum of 56°C for at least half an hour and then branded with hot iron to prove it.

Mercifully, we've located a friendly firm who'll thrown the crate in with a load of pallets which are getting the same ISPM 15 treatment next week, and we'll bring you snaps of the hot phytosanitary action in due course.

On other fronts, our chums at Edge Research Lab are preparing for the final LOHAN test flight, to check the Vulture 2's battery supply and servos at altitude.

Autopilot brain surgeon Linus Penzlien, meanwhile, is plugging away on spaceplane hardware-in-the-loop simulations as part of he and Andrew Tridgell's custom Pixhawk parameter wrangling.

These include the sensational arboreal avoidance algorithm MAG_TREE_AVOID, which as we all know was recently declared PANTS (Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System).

It's all go, then, and before we sign off to load the van and head for Santander ferry port, we ask you to salute our magnificent new LOHAN sponsors, who'll all get a fuller fanfare of trumpets in due course... ®

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator, sponsored by...

  • EXASOL logo
  • Pulse_Eight
  • SecQuest logo
  • Lucidica logo
  • NXT logo

...and with the invaluable support of...

  • Edge Research Laboratory logo
  • Space Graphic Solutions logo
  • 3D Robotics logo
  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo
  • Random Engineering logo

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.

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