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Vulture 2 design hero describes epic 'hobby' project

Chris Dodd talks spaceplane with The Engineer

It's a traditional SPB tip of the hat today to Vulture 2 spaceplane designer Chris Dodd, who's been chewing the fat with The Engineer about his involvement with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project.

Chris Dodd and the virtual Vulture 2 on a computer monitor

Long-term LOHAN fans will recall Chris (pictured above), along with David Cooper and Amrith Surendra, gamely volunteered to tackle the aircraft back when they were postgraduate students at Southampton University.

The task proved challenging, not least because it was a spare-time "hobby" project. Chris was working down at Rolls Royce as part of his EngD as he hammered his part of the Vulture 2 from the living Solidworks.

He said of the epic design process: "It's all very well talking about the design work of a rocket-plane that you can 3D print, but when you actually go out there and try to do it, that’s on another level."

Well, the chaps got there in the end, with the rocket ship rising from the powdered nylon at printers 3T RPD Ltd last year.

Chris has since taken a full-time job at Rolls Royce, and we're sure you'll join us in raising a pint to toast that success.

While you do that, here are a few views of the magnificent Vulture 2 in all its structural glory:

Plan view of the Vulture 2

We're much obliged to Chris for putting together full constructional drawings, which also include these striking poses:

Front view of the Vulture 2

Side view of the Vulture 2

Axonometric view of the Vulture 2 spaceplane®

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 of 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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