Another Small Step for Man

EXASOL is lead sponsor of the LOHAN space mission. Er, why exactly?

It’s nice to work for a company that has a space programme!

EXASOL is lead sponsor of the LOHAN project, an audacious attempt to put a Playmobil astronaut into space from Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in New Mexico, USA.

A British-Bavarian project

As well, as having EXASOL as lead sponsor, Playmobil is another Bavarian company, with headquarters less than 30 minutes’ drive from EXASOL’s offices. I’m quite surprised that the local media haven’t described this as a Bavarian space mission, given that the astronaut and a chunk of the funding originate from here.

It’s more of a British mission really – there’s a big Union Jack flag painted on the outside of the craft and the real brains behind this project are the scientists at Southampton University in England and the “Black Ops” department of my favourite UK technology publication, “The Register”.

The mission

The mission itself is easy to describe but massively difficult to implement. A helium weather balloon will lift the brave little Bavarian Playmonaut and his/her/its spacecraft to the edge of space (20 km high) and then a rocket will blast it another 5 km higher. If all goes well, the spacecraft will then glide down through the atmosphere and the Playmonaut will receive a hero’s welcome.

This is more than a childish stunt: some genuine science will result from this project, thanks to the involvement of the Southampton University rocket scientists and the innovative use of a 3D printer to build the spacecraft. And to me the most remarkable part of this whole project is that the budget is less than the price of a family car.

I was so excited by the mission personally that I made a small donation before EXASOL became involved, for which I will soon receive a nice coffee mug and a good feeling of being part of something fun and potentially important.

Why EXASOL sponsors the LOHAN space mission

EXASOL are the perfect sponsors for the LOHAN project if you ask me. EXASOL’s success is tangible proof that you don’t have to be big to create something of value in a field dominated by massive organisations. Sometimes all you need is a small group of motivated enthusiasts who want to dream big, get stuff done, and have a lot of fun doing it.

Guten Flug, Playmonaut!

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