British team to launch first-ever 3D-printed, rocket-powered spaceplane, sponsored by world’s most powerful engine for analytics, EXASOL

With the help of EXASOL’s sponsorship, the British team of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Mission will launch what is arguably the world’s most advanced amateur UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a stratospheric drone) at the home of Virgin Galactic - Spaceport America, New Mexico, in autumn 2014.

London, October 02, 2014 – EXASOL AG, the provider of EXASolution, the world’s most powerful engine for analytics and data warehousing is today announced as the lead sponsor of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Mission; an audacious plan to launch a 3D printed rocket-powered spaceplane into the stratosphere at three times the cruising altitude of a transatlantic jet.

The Vulture 2 will rise to an estimated launch altitude of 20,000m under a carbon fibre launch structure lifted by a helium-filled meteorological balloon. Once the rocket motor fires – courtesy of a custom-built electronic igniter board – the aircraft will soar to a heady 25,000m, after which the Vulture 2 will glide back to earth under autopilot control.

With the help of EXASOL’s sponsorship, the British team - headed up by The Register’s Special Projects Bureau - will launch what is arguably the world’s most advanced amateur UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a stratospheric drone) at the home of Virgin Galactic - Spaceport America, New Mexico, in autumn 2014.

The Vulture 2 was designed by post-graduate aeronautical design students at The University of Southampton and produced with industrial-scale 3D printing equipment. The avionics are an advanced mix of 3D Robotics autopilot and British-built Raspberry Pi. Between them, they will use GPS, airspeed and other telemetry to navigate the Vulture 2 back to a predetermined landing site. Cameras will record the entire flight from ascent, through to blast-off, and on to landing.

Lester Haines, head of the Register’s Special Projects Bureau and holder of the Guinness World Record for the highest launch of a paper aeroplane, said: “Without doubt, this is the most complicated amateur high-altitude mission ever undertaken. We’ve spent four years, thousands of hours and quite a bit of cash overcoming numerous technical challenges, and we’re delighted that EXASOL has come on board for the grand finale. We don’t know quite what will happen when the big day arrives, but one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be quite a show.”

Aaron Auld, CEO of EXASOL, said: “When we heard about The Register’s plan to launch the Vulture 2, we thought it was only fitting that the world’s fastest in-memory analytic database, EXASolution, should support this fascinating venture. EXASOL strongly believes in innovation, so this spoke to our core philosophy. We are all about pushing boundaries and just as EXASolution pushes speed and performance benchmarks to become the world’s best, so does The Vulture 2.”


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