back to article LOHAN chews the fat with US TV station over Spaceport's FAA-ilure

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission and its epic struggle to get clearance to launch at Spaceport America got a bit of airtime on Saturday night on Albuquerque TV station KRQE. As you can see, reporter Emily Younger miraculously managed to get a statement out of Spaceport America: Spaceport America …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well, you can use my back garden if you want somewhere to launch. It's not that big but completely free of FAA and CAA regulations. However, once you're airborne, you are on your own re the authorities. And obviously I'll deny everything. :-)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Pint

      Scrap the low-orbit craft and start work on the space elevator. It's your back garden all the way up.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Coat

        start work on the space elevator.

        Just make sure you agree on units first, would be a bummer to get it almost all in place only to find that the first floor end was 10 feet off the ground.

        1. hplasm Silver badge
          Happy

          "...agree on units first..."

          What are these 'feet' of which you speak?

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          "...start work on the space elevator..."

          Space Elevator fanboyz make me laugh.

          They're okay with all the prerequisites...

          Magic 40,000 km long cable made from carbon nanotubes something_or_other

          Whirling counterweight securely tugging on said cable

          Vague hopes about weather, induced currents, wayward aircraft

          Some magic power-beaming laser beam or microwave thingy to power the climber

          But when I suggest using a looped cable, a simple pulley at the top and a simple electric drive motor on the ground, suddenly they get all immediately-practical on me, and the pulley concept becomes a compete impossibility.

          Idiots!

          ;-)

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: "...start work on the space elevator..."

            the pulley concept becomes a compete impossibility.

            Of course, you need a block-and-tackle to get enough force multiplication.

          2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

            Re: "...start work on the space elevator..."

            No, it's just that they've already had the cable cut to length.

        3. wilber

          That isn't a problem in much of the world, where the first floor is 10 feet off the ground.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    South Africa?

    Didn't the Bloodhound crew put a lot of effort into finding a similar spec "big piece of empty ground somewhere with reasonable services and obstructive bureaucracy" and decide "South Africa is best"?

    It'd probably be cheaper and quicker to just cut your losses and move now than go on pissing into the wind.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: South Africa?

      +1.

      You would have had one of the small island governments in the middle of nowhere agree 100 times to your launch requirements by now. It would have been a more pleasant place to launch too.

      In fact you do not even need _THAT_ as the island you need solely for a place to land. You can launch outside territorial waters and fire that "illegal" rocket engine also outside territorial waters leaving only the landing to be the subject of the local air traffic regs.

      Actually, you could (and should) have done that off the Canary islands in the first place instead of wasting your time on dealing with American Bureaucracy. Rent a boat in Tazacorte or Valverde, sail outside territorial waters, hit the launch button and send pics to the Spanish government idiot who told you to get an explosive factory license combined with a picture of the street sign saying "I am missing a screw". Fishing, whale watching and sunlounging optional.

      If everything goes according to plan the aircraft should have enough "gliding range" to glide to an island 100km + away from the top of the trajectory so this idea is not as daft as it may seem. All you need is to plug the coordinates of the nearest targets into the auto-pilot after launch.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: South Africa?

        Actually, you could (and should) have done that off the Canary islands in the first place instead of wasting your time on dealing with American Bureaucracy. Rent a boat in Tazacorte or Valverde, sail outside territorial waters, hit the launch button and send pics to the Spanish government idiot who told you to get an explosive factory license combined with a picture of the street sign saying "I am missing a screw". Fishing, whale watching and sunlounging optional.

        Territorial waters are quite a nebulous concept from the point of view of Spanish bureaucracy. See Gibraltar and fishing quotas.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: South Africa?

          We should never have given up Woomera (did we?)

          1. KA1AXY

            Re: South Africa?

            RE: Woomera

            Probably need clearance from FAA there as well...or NSA

            1. Esme

              Re: South Africa?

              Woomera definitely, if the local authorities there are more amenable. 'S got history on its side too.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: South Africa?

        "You would have had one of the small island governments in the middle of nowhere"

        There's a slight problem with all that "nowhere". It's WET nowhere and one Playmonauttm has already been sacrificed to the great wet nowhere.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: South Africa?

      Bugger! Meant to say "unobstructive bureaucracy" way up there ^ (of course).

  3. moiety

    Couldn't you just launch from international waters? You don't need an especially stable platform for balloon launches.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Recovery over water becomes a pain in the neck and a craft like Vulture II doesn't float. So you'd better hope it comes within reach of land again. At which point you have to deal with those pesky aviation authorities again.

      1. moiety

        Isn't a return trajectory somewhat predictable due to trade winds/earth's rotation etc? So it's not beyond feasible that you could launch wet and recover dry if you planned things right. Also it's the propellant/explosive that seems to be the main sticking point and that wouldn't be a problem on the return journey.

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

        That's exactly the problem with water launches. We'd like our aircraft back again.

    2. Blofeld's Cat

      "Couldn't you just launch from international waters?"

      Perhaps Elon Musk would lend you one of his Autonomous spaceport drone ships, while the Falcon is being reworked.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Export License?

    Would probably need an arms export license to take it to SA now, and that'd be harder than FAA, given LOHAN is essentially an airbourne-launched guided missile...

    Best not give them ideas though.

    1. cyfahead

      Re: Export License?

      As I recall working for the renamed-IBM South Africa surrogate, ISM (Pty) Ltd. in the 70's, 80's and early 90's US Arms Export control to South Africa from the US of A was never a problem. Just tell them you are shipping to customers in Pretoria (now Tshwane) who operate under the names of Bureau Beta or Bureau Nucleus or that 'Bureau' sitting on the left of the old N1 entering the city from the South, the one with the flags flying and the parade ground out front. Their IT centre is a beauty.. 100ft under the building behind blast proof doors... always been a good IBM customer.

      They also can give you plenty of open ground with controlled airspace over head....

  5. imanidiot Silver badge

    Contact with the FAA

    Has there been any contact with the lower level FAA bod after he supposedly passed the paperwork onwards? I'm beginning to get the feeling that it's on someones desk being used to raise the monitor.

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

      Re: Contact with the FAA

      Many attempts at contact with said bod have met with silence.

      1. Aqua Marina

        Re: Contact with the FAA

        Treat it like you would a business.

        Keep posting to their facebook page, asking if they are having a problem with their emails / phone / fax machine.

        Eventually someone will get annoyed enough to get you some kind of answer.

        https://www.facebook.com/FAA

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Contact with the FAA

          Hmm... I might just <gasp><choke> have to open a Farcebook account... I'm sure NSA and everyone will understand and not retaliate... right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Contact with the FAA

        Add 1 to the phone number and try for the person at the opposite desk. Hell, google-fu might tell you that persons' coworkers or supervisor.

      3. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: Contact with the FAA

        Then I'd think it would be better to find another way in (perhaps bug "Space"portAmerica again to help you out. Even if it's just to confirm the paperwork IS actually in processing. Seems that the bod in question has moved to another function/job. I'd assume you'd at the very least get a polite "Its still in the works" response at some point if he were still around.

      4. KA1AXY

        Re: Contact with the FAA

        He retired? And they're binning all mail addressed to him?

        // just your luck

  6. SW10
    WTF?

    Your problem's right here:

    before Spaceport America can move any further on a project like Lohan’s Vulture II.

    Yep, Spaceport America actually think this is Lindsay Lohan's project; so obviously all the paperwork has been sent to her.

    Easy mistake to make. Seems to me you just need to nip round hers and get it...

  7. ukgnome

    FAA

    Fuck All Avionics

  8. Mage Silver badge
    Alien

    Disused Spaceports

    There is one in Kenya.

    Woomera in Australia might re-open, (I don't know what for).

    The French used to have one in Algeria but they decided current European Space port in 1960, and though in South America, it's now done over 50% of satellites still in orbit and the Russians are now even renting a pad, as the Russian Baikanour Cosmodrome is now inconveniently in a foreign country (Kazakhstan)

    1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
      Pint

      Re: Disused Spaceports

      Woomera in Australia might re-open, (I don't know what for).

      I expect it would re-open for a couple of slabs of beer to whoever has the key to the front gate. It's the Aussie way.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One of the comments on the KRQE story:

    "It is very gratifying to know that the $210 million dollars New Mexicans paid for this airport to nowhere may one day allow a plastic toy to be dropped from a carnival balloon."

    Bit harsh.

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

      Re: One of the comments on the KRQE story:

      I think that sums up the local attitude to the Spaceport. Irate taxpayer commentard just venting spleen.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    You're rubbish at Tech...

    ...everyone knows, you just go ahead and do it regardless, then if anyone finds out, it was a bug in the system and you apologise for any distress caused, blah, blah blah...

    After all, you're doing "disruptive" space flight.

  11. Camilla Smythe

    May One Assume

    You have basically just given up and us Commentards are now allowed to flood various authorities inboxen with desultory messages about their inability to make proper bacon sandwiches or mugs of tea.

    I don't know. You have spent all of your life becoming a fat lardy arse and then they reject you. Fucking Land of The Lardy Arse Bigots.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Captain DaFt

    The whole problem's in your PR

    Seriously, you're a news site, use your contacts (Wut?) to get other news agencies on board. The right (wrong?) press could do wonders with the stages of this saga:

    Bureaucracy Forces British Aerospace Venture Overseas

    Foreign Government Holds British Aerospace Venture Hostage; Demands Munitions Capable Facility In Exchange

    Hostile EU Business Climate Forces British Aerospace Venture To Relocate To US

    British Aerospace Venture Being Stymied By US Paranoia?

    US Government still Mum On Why It's Holding Back British Aerospace Venture; Is Google Involved?

    US Agency Maintains Secrecy Over Fate of British Aerospace Venture

    Oh, and the DM version (Just as legit as the rest):

    US Government Agency Refuses To Comment On Alien Space Flight From England

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Threaten to take it to North Korea

    I am sure they'd welcome it, and it might convince those who don't want that to buck their ideas up.

  14. BattleBotBob

    Work Bureaucrats from top down.

    Get Brtish PM, ESA, military to question the American lack of support. Bottom up does not influence bureaucrats. Complain to Obama snd Congress with any one willing to do it on a whim from across the big water. Position is everything.

  15. J0015

    Change of State

    Maybe a change of state is required. Engadget is reporting that "Space balloon company finds a home in Arizona". They may be able to help...

  16. mtp
    Flame

    50 foot rocket approved

    If these people can launch a 50 foot rocket then what are they doing that Lohan cannot?

    http://www.space.com/33552-record-breaking-student-built-rocket-launch.html

    Muttering quiet blasphemies at the gods of red tape ( as opposed to blue tape which would be just fine ).

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019