back to article PARIS in 89,000 ft climax

The Paper Aircraft Released Into Space team has spent the last three days sipping champagne and analysing data and images following last week's triumphant space plane mission. Here's an quick snap of the launch (.kmz location here), and the same seen from the main payload Kodak Zx1 video camera: The PARIS launch by José …

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Stupid question

But did you manage to reach space with the plane - I can't remember at what level atmosphere ends and space begins?

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Brick or not...

This was an ambtious task, with only 50/50 success rate, if that, well done guys, and as said up there many times, a picture of the blackness of space showing the curvature of the earth made this all worth while.. and btw, oficially SPACE begins at 70,000 i think .. according to the USAF so err, well done for actually getting our brave iccle pilot into SPACE!

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Record Breakers

Paper Aeroplane Released in Space at an altitude that is going to be hard to beat.

Jolly well done

....if you wanna be the best, if you wanna beat the rest, dedication's what you need......if you wanna be a record breakerrrrrrrrr....., yeah.

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Plane spotting

Did no one else spot the intrepid glider flying into shot at 1.05minutes into the clip (top right hand side). Proof if proof were needed that this was a great success.

However, if the Vulture team were to repeat the exercise I would hope that they mount the glider pitched down about 45 degrees to git it some forward momentum as it dropped. You can clearly the see the start of the stall as it drops from the balloon.

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Difficult to do much flying at that altitude...

There simply isn't enough air for the wings to do anything with... This thing was higher than an SR71 can sustain flight at for goodness sake... It was always going to drop like a stone on launch - I can't believe that you could make a glider that could maintain any kind of glide angle at that altitude and survive to get to the ground... If it could it would probably be up there for about a week, and be in major trouble in turbulent air at lower heights.

Great job guys... a splendid addition to the annals of gloriously pointless pommie eccentricity.

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Stop

Stop calling it a brick!

Vulture 1 was in no way bricklike. If it was, it would have hit the ground hard enough to wreck it. The only damage is that little hole in the wing, and it probably got that at 89k feet when the balloon popped and pulled the plane free.

Watch the slow motion parts of the release video. It acted like a plane, at least for a while.

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Coat

The Debriefing

Interviewer: "So, Mr. Playmonaut, your aircraft ascended to over 89,000 feet above the earth before release from the motherballoon.

Chuck Eccles; Yeah... yeah... yeah...

Interviewer: And when you were that high up, did the earth look round?

Chuck Eccles: Yeah... I don't think it saw me, though,

...Because , let's face it... launching a paper plane into space would TOTALLY fit as a Goon Show plot!

(Although perhaps the intrepid pilot was not the Famous Eccles... I could almost suspect that I heard a boyish East Finchley-type voice fading into the distance as the Vulture-1 was released: "YOU ROTTEN SWINE, YOO-O-O-O-o-o-o-u-u-u-u-u-u...!")

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Pint

Commander Grytpype-Thyne & Flight Major D. Bloodnok?

PARIS was brilliant!

Your post was brilliant too! Three cheers for Junior Boyscout Cadet Spaceman Blunebontle!

BRANDY!

Will the Vulture 2 be a paper model of the Albert Memorial?

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Stall speed

er I thought there wasn t much air at 90000 ft ? so its not gunna glide any way, its always gunna come down nearly vertcal . . A lightning jet figter once reached about this height but the pilot said it was very tricky to control n he was doing about 1000 mph . the U2 spy plane had huge wings and at this height and 600 mph was just on the edge of stalling . .

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Anonymous Coward

er I thought there wasn t much air at 90000 ft?

It gets thicker as you go down.

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stall speed...

Well, the Stelios (electric prop plane) got up to 96,000 feet, so it's not inconceivable that a very light paper glider could glide at that altitude. Yes, the air's thinner, but the wing area/weight ratio for Vulture 1 was pretty good, wasn't it?

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Paris Hilton

I saw the subtitle about video of Paris climaxing...

and I thought that she had released another sex tape.

Reg--you owe me for one morning of shattered hopes and dreams!!

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Well done guys

I hope you try a Vulture II.

Have you thought of building a delta next time? It would be easy to build strong enough, they can be set up to glide stably and with a nice, thick Vulcan type wing there's plenty of room inside for cameras and tracking gear.

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WTF?

Tough crowd?

I mean seriously, build up or not, anti-climax or not!!!!

Surely you pedants must agree this was an amazing achievement.

God, just goes to show the pareto principle applies to insufferable pr$*ks vs get-up-and-doers.

I would love to take on a proj like that eventually, i hope you wouldnt mind the imitation/copying, etc. (they say it is the most sincere form of flattery...).

In the meantime I hope you're are getting properly seen to (like the yeagers et al of old) - as well as getting thoroughly sheeetfaced at the Happy Bottom Riding Club.

You guys sure are the right stuff!!! (cheap I know - but hey - I'm Irish).

Later dudes

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Paris Hilton

Enquiring minds (well, this nosey bastard) need to know...

...will there be a mk. 2? Some of the comments are kind of assuming there will be, but I haven't seen any mention from you guys, apart from Lester saying Hmmmmm twice, which is none too positive. :(

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Pint

Somebody has to say it

I demand a playmobil reconstruction or it didnt happen.... oh wait hold on I see what you did there. In that case very good, carry on...

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23km

have plotted the release and landing points onto the APRS system for those interested. looks like the plane flew for around 23km. Sadly the plane GPS only got a lock close to the ground, but at least we managed to get a fix on it and retrieve it.

But it was a maiden voyage, and so many things could have gone wrong, but didn't. The fact that the plane only released at balloon burst turned out to be a bonus

Thanks to the Reg for getting me involved. A fantastic experience, if a little stressful at times.

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Recantation

A damned good job, sounds like a happy mistake that the release mechanism clung on till the very last moment - giving you the highest possible release altitude for the PARIS.

I recant my earlier doubts :)

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Anonymous Coward

PARIS2

Next time, lose the pilot and replace with the innards of an iphone, and one of these to keep it toasty warm http://tinyurl.com/39bmkjh

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Flame

You may want to ask

how well they work at 25 miles up. Burning requires not only fuel but also oxygen; the latter is pretty scarce already at the summit of Mt. Everest, let alone three times higher.

You'll also have the problem that controlling the resulting temperature (lithium batteries dislike overheating even more than freezing) will not be a simple task. Beef up the camera battery a bit, add a controller and a heating element, and you're set.

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Headmaster

Circling is normal

Any non-guided glider will always have at least a tiny tendency to turn either right or left, thus insuring a downward circling pattern. A perfectly straight flight with no corrective control would be equivalent to balancing a sharp knife on its point. Ain't gonna happen. Therefore there is no need to "explain" why the glider and balloon reached the ground in the same general area.

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Pint

Congrats!

Well done to all, especially our intrepid pilot!

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Lenses / mirrors?

Commentators have mentioned the possibility of a small camera onboard the plane itself. While that's one possible idea, how about either turning the camera 180°, so we can see the ascent rather than the underside of the plane; or experimenting with lenses / mirrors so we can see both the plane and the ground simultaneously?

OK, so the camera's not one that you can physically attach purpose-built lenses to, but if you pleaded / begged with a school physics department or an opticians, they might be able to provide one that could be attached to the box containing the camera...

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Graphs!

Can we have a graph of Paris flight from when the GPS started working to the ground? One for the horizontal route and one for altitude vs. time. So we can see how it flies (or falls?). But I suppose that it has actually been able to fly quite properly.

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Also, GPS reception seemed poor

I have looked at the data file from Paris GPS. Is shows that only 5/6 satellites are properly received from the GPS. I suppose that in a totally open environment the plane should have seen more sats, so maybe it actually suffered from the coating of the plane, or something else was jamming the GPS signals.

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Black Helicopters

Next project: Solar Plane

Here's a little idea for a follow-up project: Release a proper RC glider (controlled by one of those thumb-sized embedded computers) from a similar balloon. For a longer flight duration, one of these electric prop gliders equipped with some thin solar cells on the wings might work.

In essence, this thing might fly for hours on end at a great altitude. Which means you just build your own reusable high altitude spy drone for probably less than 2000 Euros (beer & vine not included).

I'm not sure if this will work, but it would be an interesting project, don't you think?

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Anonymous Coward

iPhone and HD camera in space

On the same note you'll enjoy this if you've not seen it already

http://electricpig.co.uk/2010/10/18/iphone-4-space-explorer-see-the-video/

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Pint

Simply...

Gents, thanks so much for the wonderful ride, it was truly splendid. The fact that not everything worked perfectly actually makes it so much better. Let's face it, if you get everything right on the first go there isn't much to prompt another round. Why you might have sparked fires in many readers who are now planning to build their own PARIS in the fine spirit of oneupmanship.

Breathtaking pics, I wish you had another cam in the lift box to capture more of that awesome skyline. Do say you'll do it again. Same time next year? Perhaps a Halloween theme and we'll throw simultaneous global parties to celebrate or something.

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@Lester

To hell with the naysayers. This was bloody excellent. I enjoyed every one of the articles, and I think it's a spectacular achievement. You and your entire team should be proud: it's a hell of a thing you folk have done here.

Thank you all for the entertainment and I hope you all take away a justly deserved sense of acomplishment.

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WTF?

To all the anti paris people

Did you help, or did you just sit in your basement? These guys did something, sure everything didn't turn out to plan. You just sat in your parents basement and typed angry words. Either do something or STFU.

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Congratulations

Followed this from the beginning and am pleased it went so well. This is fine geek entertainment by any standard. Well done, cheers.

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Accidentally Perfect Release

If you think about it, you actually WANT to release when the balloon pops - the maximum possible altitude. If there is going to be a next time, I'd work on this.

Also like the idea of releasing from the tail - a small wire hook there would be far better than the long wire in the current design, and less chance of icing up.

Congratulations - awesomely silly project, but all the more fun because of it.

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Indeed.

Some mechanism with a tensioned spring that can only pull back the release pin once the balloon bursts, most easily implemented, I think, with a cord running from the spring to the balloon.

And the plane hanging nose-down under the launch box will probably make it drop away faster, decreasing the possibility of a collision (as I think has happened, judging from the shape of the hole in the port wing).

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Paris Hilton

Plucky Playmonaut Paris Pilot Praised by Participants, Publication, Proles....

So has the little chap been un-glued so he can, well, you know, um, go ?

Paris. Well, you know, um...

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Joke

Another theory on the wing damage

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/25/altb_test_fluff/ - maybe DARPA got envious at PARIS, and the ALTB laser output was just very, very slow?

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Pint

Now to add a rocket...

to the balloon and get it to the top of the stratosphere.

Well done - great project.

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Ballon burst != plane release

When the balloon bursts the main payload drops like a stone. Actually it looks like about 53 ft/sec initially. After the point of release (aftermath?) the plane is clearly seen flying far below the payload so the payload must still have been supported. i.e. the balloon must have been intact for the duration of the video clip.

My guess is that the release mechanism may have been retarded because it had to overcome the additional resistance of ice gluing the pin to the loop. When the mechanism gains enough power to break the ice the pin is pulled away with explosive force. Hence the bang on the sound track.

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Video of PARIS at release

Did anyone else notice, in the video, after the first shot of release, there's a moment when PARIS's left wing reappears at the right hand side of the frame. The vulture logo is clearly visible, as is a small spot a couple of logo diameters inboard. I don't suppose that spot might be the "small hole"?

Anyway, really great job, and, now that you know you can do it, tell us when PARIS II will be!

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Boffin

The balloon

Immediately after the release you can see the camera view change from "swaying" to "tumbling", which would imply the main box is also falling freely.

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Boffin

Parachute

Once the balloon pops the payload is retarded by its parachute (inline on the baloon cord).

the PARIS drops freely, but as it is paper falls at a similar rate to the heavy payload & chute, hence the close proximity at all times, video glimpses and landing zones.

Really couldn't have done better!

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Boffin

Chute deploy?

Wonder if the parachute deployment caused a jerk that effected separation?

And no comments about Paris jerkin..... oh, I already did :)

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Only after the parachute opens.

If the balloon burst before of at the same moment as release both would initially have been in free fall until the parachute was deployed. if both are in free fall then there is no difference in the weight of the payload and the plane. Release cannot be achieved. If the drag on plane makes it fall more slowly than the payload we would see the plane move towards the payload camera or turn the whole thing upside down.

I still maintain that we would have heard a bang, a second or so at least of free fall, the parachute deploys slowing the payload and returning a weight difference to the coupling. as the weight hit it would break the ice and allow release. The plane would then fall away. That wasn't what happened.

The effect on the payload/balloon of the sudden release of the plane may have had the destabilising effect witnessed.

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Parishute

I don't think it'd have effect immediately, especially not at 89k ft.

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Roll on PARIS 2

Awesome stuff, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise --- I wish *I* was doing something this interesting.

But now that the concept has been proven, it's time for the *real* mission!

I do have one suggestion: if you put a big tail fin on the main payload box, the balloon won't rotate as much, which leads to much better pictures.

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No rotation?

If you force the balloon/main payload to not rotate, you stand a far smaller chance of getting the plane in camera view after it separates, as you'll force the camera to look in more or less only one direction--which will most likely be the ground. Rotation is not only desirable, but essential if you want to have video footage of anything but the ground...

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Happy

To boldly go to Vulture 2

One small step for Man. One giant leap for Vultures.

Re Vulture 2. The National Geographic channel spends a fortune on a series called 'Air Crash Investigation', the point of which is to remind viewers it's safer to walk everywhere on foot and especially on a motorway than fly.

The current series of ACI has come to an end, and the producers appear to be having some slight difficulty in finding new crashes of interest.

With a budget of over half a £mill an episode, ACI is surely going to be the ideal partner for Lester & Co, beginning with an episode which documents and re-enacts this first flight.

Lester and the team would benefit from the fees paid by ACI and ACI would likely get the biggest audience it has ever had. The fees received would fund Vulture 2 and the subsequent documentary of Vulture 2 would fund Vulture 3. The Wright Brothers never got this kind of sponsorship.

Meanwhile. . . awards, medals, Buckingham Palace garden parties and Gawd only knows wot else to all involved in the Paris project: at a time when the world grows more dismal by the day, we need Vulture just as much as we needed Sir Walter Drake to discover the potato and so invent smoking. Well done, El Reg!

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PARIS 2....Four words

Wing Mounted Laser Weapons

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Paris Hilton

barbie girl ..... er sorry mean Paris

if vulture was just a bit bigger , a barbie girl camera could have been used .Then she could have been dressed as Paris, hope fully wearing knickers tho as its a bit chilly up there lol . or if that was too much for mk2 , I ve got one of the key fob cameras , weighs nothing , may be could have been made to fit in side the playmonaut? Any way great attempt and prob a bit better result than was planned . The vid of it banking away after separation was superb . Wonder if it went faster in its inital dive than a ww2 mosquito plane , which I thought was the fastest ever wooden plane

link to quality of barbie cam

http://vimeo.com/13992345

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Megaphone

Bloody Marvellous

This is clearly the most important flight since the Wright brothers and any dissenter should go back to staring at the wall in their cube. I have really enjoyed the run-up, the launch and now the slow release of video showing amazing results.

I am in awe of the team. Fantastic stuff.

Buzz Lightyear had it about right - "this isn't flying, it is falling with style". 11/10 for the playmonaut.

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what about a stereo HD telescope for the next project to beat NASA's Fermi telescope

what about drawing up plan's for a hi altitude stereo HD telescope for the next project to beat NASA's Fermi telescope on the cheap using off the shelf toy parts and micro gyro etc, at least for a short time.

at these hight's your above the distortion of the atmosphere right, or at least very little to filter off

and rather than wait for the balloon to pop as it reaches max hight , why not use a simple pressure release valve to let the gas out slowly, or use that the fact its about to pop, and actually push on gas at high speed to give it that little extra kick to reach an even higher altitude.

the possibilities are endless, how far do you need to go before you can sustain space flight and actually keep something up there thats carrying actual Useful vulture inspired stereo HD telescope and an 11n long range wifi to ground link multicast video streaming that anyone within reach can see.....

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