back to article Fair winds and following servers: The art of flight prediction

Back in September, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team sent a mighty orb aloft on a test flight of our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane's rocket motor igniter. The mission was a textbook operation, with the the payload eventually returning to terra firma within a few hundred metres of the awaiting team, at a …


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  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    We assume it has been updated

    Since our brave playmonaut was lost in the channel, in spite of the best efforts of Lester and myself to recover him?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: We assume it has been updated

      Yes, the creaking NOAA servers were to blame for that one, as I understand it. The update's improved matters somewhat.

      1. daveake

        Re: We assume it has been updated

        The problem was actually that the met office didn't launch their normal quota of balloons that day, so the prediction was based on older data than usual. A weather front was predicted to come in during the evening, but actually came in several hours earlier, changing the flight path enormously and thus dooming our heroic playmonaut to an early, salty, wet grave.

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: We assume it has been updated

          As Michael Fish might have put it: "Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a drowning on the way... well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't

  2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Force of attraction

    Does it also take into account the well known attractive powers of tall trees, inaccessible ledges/mountainsides and of course deep water in the terrain?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Force of attraction

      That's a future update, I reckon.

  3. willi0000000

    here's hoping

    that my government doesn't decide to cut NOAA funding any more.

    if the anti-science crowd find out that this data is just being given away they're sure to howl.

    1. joeW

      Re: here's hoping

      As well they should my laddo... imagine if it fell into the hands of terrrurists!?!?

  4. C. P. Cosgrove

    Pack a ladder !

    A splendidly bare target landscape - the highest thing in sight a large bale. BUT - given the propensity of things like gliders and radio controlled models to find trees, it can almost be guaranteed that a mighty oak will spring 'full armed from the soil' just in time.

    Or, as it might be put on the Disc World 'Million to one chances are dead certs.'

    I wouldn't leave the ladder at home if I was you ! But I will raise a glass to a safe flight when it happens.

    Chris Cosgrove

  5. Jim Birch

    Hot air

    This is what hot air balloon pilots do. In city flights you may need to drop onto a park or a football ground (or else.) A balloon that might be moving at a couple of metres a second and wind changing speed and direction on the way requires a canny brain function running a three dimensional path integration with imprecise parameters, plus a good dose of self confidence that stops short of hubris.

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