back to article El Reg to launch space paper plane

It's official: We here at the Vulture Central Science Bureau have had enough of writing about space shuttles, orbiting Japanese laboratories and Chinese taikonauts, when the best the UK's space programme can offer is to lose touch with a 300g wedge of Somerset farmhouse cheddar somewhere over the south of England. Accordingly …


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  1. finnbarr

    "Dick Dastardly"

    He was, after all, the leader of the Vulture Squadron.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What else could it be named?


  3. Ben Mathews


    Would surely have to be 'Vulture'?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    How about...

    ..."Vulture Venturer"?

  5. Grease Monkey Silver badge


    It isn't a paper plane if there's balsa in it.

    If you're going to use balsa you may as well build one of those KeilKraft kits we used to build as kids. Do they still make those?

  6. david 63

    contact Phil Mitchell here...

    or 'e'll give yer a right slap you slag...

  7. Evil_Medic


    Two words: Queen Bee

  8. jonathan keith
    Paris Hilton


    "The Vulture"

    Otherwise "Paris", in honour of our favourite globetrotting heroine.

  9. Steve Swann

    A suggested name... or two...

    * Ms Bee

    * FSM

    * Paris

    * MyCoat

    * Balsa Overlord

  10. Ben Best

    Name Thoughts

    Surely "The Vulture"

    But maybe the penguin.


  11. Les Matthew

    So, is El Reg going to be

    a big cheese in the space exploration business?

  12. Wokstation
    Thumb Up

    Name: Big Mod 1

    (After the Moderatrix, of course).

    Also I suggest you contact that cheese company and ask them for a thin sliver of their finest cheddar to use as nose-ballast.

    Keep it made of paper, waterproofed naturally, so that you can enter it into the Guinness Book of Records.

  13. Mike Street

    Name has to be

    Vulture 1

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get Branson to sponsor it...

    ... and call it the Virgin Vulture.

  15. Crossbow

    A name....

    How can it be called anything other than the Vulture?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It should be ...

    HP paper strapped to a pallet.

  17. CD001

    @Christopher P. Martin

    Oooooh I like "Vulture Venturer"!

    How about equipping it with a web-cam and G3 phone for uplink (or whatever) so we can watch the whole 30 second disaster... I mean, exciting endeavour live online here?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think

    The Twatdangle I.

  19. David Webb

    Let's see

    A name, hrm, the Bulgarian Funbag express? Though that would look bad for future generations of history students...

    I am reliably informed that the Spanish for Vulture is Buitre, so, El Buitre? Cept then we have the problem of pronunciation, darn foreign words! It really is hard to think of a name!

    The BAFH? Bastard Airplane From Hell?

    The Labour Party Express - watch that plane drop as far as Browns popularity!

    As for crafting it, it really is a giant boys toy (and girls toy, at least the sort of girls toy that they can pull out and use in public without an article on El Reg), and luckily I'd guess the main demographic of El Reg is.... male.

  20. Samuel Williams
    Thumb Up

    Being a vulture...

    ...shouldn't it circle rather than glide long distances? Or is that buzzards?

  21. Pete Foster

    Vulture is too obvious!

    I suggest "Aegypius".

  22. Hermes (nine inch) Conran
    Paris Hilton


    Nothing goes down better

  23. Dale 3

    "Paper Plane One"

    Taking inspiration from Scaled Composites, that would be the low altitude test one. But don't worry, I have the full-size flier covered: "Paper Plane Two"! Awesome.

  24. Lionel Baden

    @grease monkey

    I fully agree with the fact that balsa would redifine it as a paper aircraft

    But you could create struts by folding the paper tightly and wetting it then letting it dry.

    I dislike the idea of balso otherwise its just a lightweight glider.

    But then again is it likley that you can load equipment onto a paper plane

    hmm what about the printable batteries i saw on here a week or so ago.

    that would be good for powering a gps unit.

    Strip down a old phone and nab the optics for photographing the flight (would prolly be easiest and safer to store locally rather than transmit the data)

    You could also use arials for struts (its cheating to a degree but you could get away with it)

    Name: Bee line

  25. alain williams Silver badge

    +1 to "Vulture Venturer"

    and your logo on each wing!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    old phone

    For gps, camera etc put a Nokia N95 or similar in the plane. it can track and phot to it's hearts content and when in range transfer the data via 3G. And if it's picked up by ET he can phone home. Make sure the sim has international roaming enabled incase it works

  27. Ferenc

    High Altitude Glider

    Art Vanden Berg had a shot at this. Have look over here:

    or here:

    Fascinating stuff.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The Twatdangle I."


  29. cynic 2


    Can we have a Playmobil crew?

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Name? Either:

    Paris (she's good at going down)


    Vulture Bee


    Heart of Gold (we need more Douglas Adams references)


    "Mechanism to release aircraft from balloon at preset altitude (relying on balloon burst not a good idea). "

    You'll also want to monitor altitude in case of premature descent - you want to release from the balloon if you start going down before the preset altitude.

  32. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Let's give a nod to history?

    "Sir George Cayley"

    Which not only commemorates (<-- hell, just how many 'm's in that damn word?) the early British pioneer of flight, but might also provide some protection in the case of running into any passing low-earth-orbit dragons. I mean, you never know...

  33. Tim Bergel
    Thumb Up


    "Can we have a Playmobil crew?" Yeah!

  34. jeffrey 1


    I remeber reading ages ago about a japanese science experiment using a special sort of paper, that would release paper planes from space, and have it re-enter earths atmosphere (with all the crazy heat and forces that entails) to land on the ground, still I guess el reg's effort will be impressive still , even if it is from 1/3 rd of the height.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Black Vulture

    After "Black Prince" and "Black Knight".

    Or @ Pete Foster: Aegypius monachus

  36. Alan Thomson


    ...or even Sarcogyps, the Red-headed Vulture?

  37. Harvey Trowell

    A backronym?

    Paper Aeroplane Released Into Space

  38. Hugh Jorgen
    Paris Hilton

    For the history books......

    Problem with history books is they were always defaced when I were a lad. So, while El Reg is forging ahead with the revival of the UK's dreams of space flight, why not beat the future generation to it? Why not call it:

    your mom (or yo momma) 'cos nothing goes down longer'

    or 'pWnD'

    or 'Bungles Finger'

    and while we're at it, try to use some paper from a tacky skin mag and have a snapper showing on the wing somehwere, saves time for the kids drawing one on if a photo ever makes it into the curriculum....

    Paris...... any why not?

  39. Jonathan 17

    it can only be...

    Either yggdrasil, the world tree.

    Or The Enterprise, to boldly go where no tree has gone before.

    Or Paris, she REALLY gets around.

  40. RainForestGuppy

    The Vulture has already been done.

    If you remember the "cult" seventies fantasy show "Salvage 1", their rocket was called the vulture.

    As there are actually 2 craft, the launcher and the payload. I think there should be 2 names.

    How about

    BOFH 1


    PFY Voyager

  41. Paul E

    Do you think Mr Branson would mind...

    If you called it Vulture Galactic Paper Plane 1

  42. pica
    Paris Hilton

    Not Paris

    We don't want it to go down THAT fast.

  43. da3andrew

    Balsa != Paper

    The use of balsa wood won't make it a paper aeroplane any more! A cleverly-designed cardboard frame should be able to provide sufficient strength.

    It could be tough to make sure the aircraft continues to fly (rather than just falling out of the sky) all the way down, particulary with air currents. Making it heavier will help (more momentum therefore less affected by changes in the air around it), but then of course it'll need to be bigger overall to produce the extra lift. Or how about adding some control surfaces and an inertial measurement unit linked up to an autopilot?

    On-board photo/video is a must!!!

    I for one will happily volunteer my time to this worthwhile endeavour!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Grave Disappointment

    Just think of the headlines you could get with a name like that.

  45. Stjohn Roe

    A good op for SQL injection

    I like "Vulture '; truncate table story;" or something in the same vein.

  46. Murray Pearson 1

    Plane-ly should be....

    Since "high-altitude glider" abbreviates to HAG, why not the Vulture HAG?

    I don't think we should be so pedantic about the fine points of wood-vs-paper; that is, unless the electronics you're inserting into it are ALSO paper.....? Surely the plastic, metal and glass are a bigger deviation from the ideal than a few balsa and/or basswood spars? Finally, to keep the weight to a minimum, experiment with muscle wires rather than electromechanical servos.

    Basswood/balsa composite, by the way, would be a far better choice than balsa alone. Using built-up members with balsa in tension and basswood in compression, and your strength-to-weight ratio should double at least. Use cyanoacralyte superglue for lightweight joins, and saturation with a thinned white or carpenter's glue where stresses are concentrated.

    In keeping with the 'paper airplane' theme, the skin of the plane could easily be doped tissue-paper.

  47. Timfy
    Jobs Halo


    that is all...

  48. Anonymous Coward

    tracking device

    am I being thick here, or does GSM / 3g coverage not extend to a sufficient altitude for such a device to be be used for real time data relay to VultureCentral? surely it will have to be satellite / rf data relay?

    or maybe we should just link up some x25 cables and have a 'fly by wire' system?

  49. werrington
    Jobs Horns

    Apple incorporated


    or iFAPPISAIAMFWBDTA for short.

  50. Rich (the other one)

    How about ...

    ... Calling the balloon 'WHITE LIGHTNING 2', and the aeroplane 'SPACEPLANK 2'?

    You've got to name both of them ... the balloon's doing most of the leg work!

    Oh and don't forget to start a spin-off company called ...


    .. and you'll need some help converting the local bus shelter into your dedicated Space Port too :-)

  51. Phantom Wibbler
    Paris Hilton

    Another one for Vulture

    My first thought was USS Twatdangler, but think it should deffinitley be called Vulture 1.

    I suppose you could call the balloon twatdangler. (On second thoughts don't. Every time I hear the word twat, I think of David Cameron!! - call the balloon Paris)

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  53. Mick Walsh

    Vulture Squadron

    In honour of Dastardly and Mutley episodes of Stop the Pigeon perhaps "Operation Birdbrain" or "Operation Anvil"?

  54. Kev K
    Thumb Up


    Can the "number" on the tail bit / serial number be 0DF0

    Im happy donate to any fund to make this happen.

    You can call it whatever you want as long as this apears on it somewhere visible

  55. Andy 21
    Paris Hilton

    Sir 'Dick' Branson is the way ...

    Maybe a joint effort with Beardy Branson and David Cameron in light of his recent comments with a Reg sponsorship deal and name it the Beardy Twat ?

    Or get Her Maj and Sir Dick Dastardly Branson together then call it the REGina Vagina.

    If there are any records to be had, old Beardy will be there...

    Along the lines of jonathan keith post ... The plane could be called Paris with a slightly revised tag line from globtrotting heroine to gobbletrotting heroin.

    I think she would find any other name just too hard to swallow...

  56. Brentonian
    Black Helicopters

    Start with the end in mind.

    So is this a paper plane or a model plane that glides??

  57. Hugh_Pym

    Medium altitude version...

    ...may have to be launched from a hot air balloon. I don't think throwing it out of a cessna at 80mph will adequately model the initial launch environment.

    You could argues that balsa == unpulped paper.

    I would vote for twatdangle 1, 2 and 3 but I think this may get your endeavours ignored by the mainstream media. What about TD1, TD2 and TD3. You can make up a suitable explanation if required.

  58. Secretgeek

    "Offers of suitable kit and supplies are, of course, more than welcome."

    There's a piece of A4 in the post.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Paris Pants

    cos it'll drop as quickly as her's for any publicity stunt

  60. Louis Cowan 1

    That fleshy bit on a vultures face

    The Red Wattle!


    Face Giblets!

  61. DS

    Her Majesty's Space Program

    For Her Majesty's Space Program, regarding the record-breaking MegaLite arboreal glider:

    I would suggest the name, HMSP Icarus.

    Here's to hoping you don't make it out of the wrong kind of wax.

    Or cheese.

  62. gg

    @Harvey Trowell

    +5000000 for "Paper Aeroplane Released Into Space"

  63. Lionel Baden

    @ murray pearson

    the electronics woudl be a payload to the plane not a part of the construction

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Given that you don't want to cause any scares or panics... it database.

    Garcon, my coat, please.

  65. Andus McCoatover

    Getting it down?

    Crikey, you've taken me back awhile. Rather than an 'IT' solution for release at height, what about the old "dethermaliser" concept. For a start, Google, obviously.

    For build, papier maché concept would make it paper - as required - but provide the strength. I don't think it's been taught in schools since I was a child - halfway through the last century. Basically, shredded paper (the Gummint's got loads at the moment - MP's expenses etc) and a source of liquid. If not lager - YES!!, then BOFH might have a suggestion involving the supposedly hidden contents of his boss' hard drive and a bit o' manual work....

    Name? Moderatrix, natch. Moder(n), and hopefully it's got trix up its sleeve...

    Oh, I agree. Playmobil crew. Pleeeth!!!

  66. Tom 64

    I have it...

    Ballistic Vulture From Hell


  67. zizzer
    Thumb Up

    GPS pursuit

    I don't think you'll be able to get the GPS Pursuit idea to work that well. In the UK we're not allowed to send up a decent RF transmitter on a balloon (the only real option being a 10mW module using one of the unlicensed bands i.e. ~433MHz). Using a mobile phone you'll probably run into reception problems past 1000 feet.

    Your best option is probably to combine both options though and have the RF module transmitting the GPS co-ordinates, or a simple beacon signal at a low data rate. Then have the mobile phone also send the GPS co-ordinates via SMS when the payload comes down.

    If you get the GPS data via SMS, then you can also use the RF beacon along with a directional antenna to pinpoint the payload.

  68. cdilla


    I'd plump for Twatdanglider or just t'danglider (we'd all know what it meant).

  69. Richard Eustace

    What about foolscape?

    Foolscap + escape

    Not that I think it’s a fools errand

  70. K L

    If High Altitude Glider = HAG.....

    ... then I'm sure there are all kinds of things you can do with that.

    I suggest: El Shag, Experimental Lightweight Scale High Altitude Glider.

  71. Simon Williams

    +1 for The Black Vulture

    ...after all, it is the Reg logo.

    Can see unfortunate end for paper plane if it gets caught in the rain on its decent. Some kind of proofing/doping coating would be a must.

    Launch from a plane isn't at all similar to launch from a balloon -- in fact, I'm not at all sure launch of a paper plane from a plane is practical. How about trials from a hot air balloon? Or another weather balloon?

  72. JJ Mail

    Would you like to ride my paper plane...


    "Beagle II"

    "GBR MMIX (made in China)"



  73. Christoph

    Re Hmmm...


    We must not allow a Paper Plane gap!

  74. Anonymous John

    @ "Offers of suitable kit and supplies are, of course, more than welcome."

    Why not just fax them a blank sheet of paper?

  75. Graham Bartlett

    Re Mr Branson

    On a side note, I think Virgin Galactic is a very suitable name for something that involves being strapped to a rocket. Because you may start with Virgin, but sooner or later you're going to get proper f*cked...

  76. hugo tyson

    HMS Camden Lock


  77. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge


    Or at least make sure the rake of the wings is referred to mysteriously in press releases as the "Paris Angle".

    Why not configure it to send out twitters every few seconds on descent? Something inane naturally: "lol can c for milez up hre"

  78. Albert Gonzalez

    Technical data:

    Energy :

    To get energy to the electronics in the plane, you can use a pair of small propeller blades attached to a pair of dinamos, that will recharge a small battery, so you will use the dinamos as a way to reduce the amount of kinetic energy, and power the electronics and, possibly, actuators.

    Excess energy to heat the electronics enclosure.

    Computer control:

    As a computer control, you can use an HTC Dream, with android, that has accelerometer, magnetic field sensor, wifi, gps, compass, video camera, is fully hackable, and you have the source code. Should be relatively easy to hack a usb device to control the surfaces of the plane, using PWM and electromagnets. Log all data to the 8Gb microSD card, that propably will survive a fatal crash, flushing the filesystem every 1s. The program for controlling the surfaces don't need to be too sophisticated, as will be using closed loop sevos with the set points controlled by the GPS. The accelerometer can be used as the D paramenter in a PID algorithm.

    Stability of the system can be easy to verify with a couple of equations, if needed, but much more fun to launch the plane from the roof.

    Altitude sensor:

    In addition to the GPS and accelerometer on the phone, you can use a small balloon, that will activate a switch when the outside air pressure drops enough.

    Separation device:

    Use an electromagnet inside the plane, attached to a piece of iron hanging from the balloon, that will be unpowered on command from the phone and will use the mechanical altitude sensor as a failsafe (serial installation). D Cell battery powered.

    Recommended design flow:

    1 - Specify hardware needed for the system.

    ( Just draw a diagram with names. )

    2 - Calculate hardware weigth.

    ( Group all the parts, and put them into a kitchen scale. )

    3 - Calculate wing span for plane + 2 x hardware weigth.

    4 - Model airplane in X-Plane simulator, while the computer hack is preparing the programs, and the HW hack is preparing the rest of the hardware.

    5 - Evaluate total payload weigth, and size balloon acordingly.

    6 - Build aircraft.

    7 - Test fly it.

    8 - Remove possible problems.

    9 - Get BAA permissions.

    10 - Send the plane.

    My 2 cents.

  79. Bassey

    Git Wizard 1

    It is, after all, an entirely pointless stunt designed to garner maximum publicity.

  80. DrJaymansLoveCookie
    Thumb Up

    For the first tests,

    I propose that the balloons be called - Balloon Orbital Launchers eXperimental or BOL-X for short

    +1 for "El Buitre", 2nd choice "Vulture"

  81. Anonymous Coward

    The play mobile crew

    The play mobile crew must be visible in the in flight photographs, so the endeavours of the brave little plastic men and women will be recorded for posterity. and possibly the police support officers trying to arrest them.

    A build your own kit could be sold from cash and carrion along with related T-shirts and memorabilia.

    Perhaps a name that sounds good regardless of the out come such as...

    Vulture Hope crashes to ground.

    With the balloon (sorry the launch platform) called Icarus.

  82. Mark Lockwood


    How about "Where's My Flying Car"

  83. Greg Tiernan

    There are some problems with your comment:

    aplanefromSpace and all the on-board equipment has to produce almost nonsensical data.

  84. Jonathan Hogg
    Thumb Up


    Can I humbly suggest about "The Badger 2.0"?

    Otherwise +1 on "aplanefrommars", +1 on it sending annoying tweets and definitely +1 on a playmobil pilot.

    I think it should also have some kind of welcome inscribed onto it from El Reg to any aliens that it might encounter.

  85. finnbarr
    Thumb Up

    Harvey gets my vote

    for his PARIS backronym

    "Paper Aeroplane Released Into Space"

  86. Andrew Newstead

    Some design notes

    This could be a possible design.

    A three stage system consisting of the following components:

    1. A balloon

    2. An Instrument module (IM) holding all the telemetry systems and release equipment. Recovered after balloon burst by parachute - technology proven by cheese flight.

    3. Glider - held by magnet on IM, released on command from ground or by onboard computer.

    By putting all the equipment into the IM we remove the issue of carrying a payload in the paper glider and having to build it strong enough for this. All the electronics such as a computer, video camera and radio tracking all all readily available from the model rocket community (who have been doing this kind of thing for ages).

    My vote for name is Black Vulture - for El Reg and a nod to history, the Black Arrow!

    "We choose to go to the Moon - not because it is easy but because it is hard..." JFK 1962.

    Make us proud Reg!

  87. /dev/me


    +1 for 'Vulture Venturer'

    +1 for 'HMSS Twatdangle'

    And the sheer scientific benefits of including the playmobile pilots/boffins I think are obvious. No one opposed? Proposal accepted ;-)

    I think 100% paper frame and exterior, just for kudos. And for an additional IT angle, make it from printer paper ;-)

    We also need working switches and indicator lights. As many as possible. It should be a high tech paper airplane from space.

    As for the design, some form of swept wing && canard configuration perhaps? This has the looks, the benefit of stall-less gliding action and natural balance. I think. I'm no expert. The name is more important anyway.

  88. Dave Ross

    Not Penguin..

    you can guarantee it will plummet to earth then crash and burn!

  89. Wokstation

    Given that there are two craft..

    ...I'm thinking Twatdangle would be perfect for the launch vehicle. The plane'd be Twatdangling beneath.

  90. Anonymous Coward

    @GPS pursuit

    I'd liek to see a mobo work at that attitude let alone get it to broadcast it GPS signals. Why do you think you're not allowed a mobo in planes (and no, it's an urban myth that it interferes with flight controls) ? It's because at altitude you broadcast into multiple cell sites (which is why the Americans call them cell phones not mobile phones) and stuff up the mobo operators tracking/paying systems by appearing in multiple places at once (and for the paranoid, yes GCHQ can't track you from your phone either if you're in two places at once).

    Mines the one with a paper plane in the pocket

  91. compsciguy
    Thumb Up

    @ /dev/me

    Or better yet, make it from pinfeed paper!

  92. Graysonn

    misread that....

    For some reason I read this line as

    Possible on-board pornographic capability?

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Names? Hmmm.

    ODFO Clipper


    Fanboy Soarer

    Flight of the SarahBee

    Friday Beer

    Playmobil Flyer

    Can I also respectfully suggest a 'payload' of high-density solid state memory cardage bearing gigs of porn as a reward to the recovery team.

  94. the real jacob

    another for

    Twatdangle I

  95. Jacqui


    My hubs did build a eagle shaped RC glider some centuries ago and it flew quite well - but took a lot of skill, These days with chip based laser gyros being used in kiddies toy helicopters I would assume building a 1:1 scale realistic looking vulture would be viable and look and fly brilliant!

    Come on - drop the namby pamby PFY paper plane idea and create the very first space vulture!


    p.s. Ensure you allow enough battery power for red leds for the eyes :-]

  96. Anonymous Coward

    Noooooooooo it can't be a plane

    It absolutely HAS to be........

    a flying car!!!!!!!!!

  97. Alan Esworthy

    What's in a name?

    Vulgar Varmint

    Plume d'Or [1]

    Atmospheric Overlord

    Wing+Tail+Fuselage? [2]

    Free Beer [3]

    Not Bird Shit

    de Havilland Comet II

    Plane 9 from Outer Space [4] (my personal favorite)


    1. Pronounced "plummeter"

    2. WTF?

    3. Guaranteed attention-grabbing name, that one

    4. Thank you, Edward D. Wood, Jr.

  98. Solomon Grundy

    Balsa Wood Not Good Idea

    As an R/C plane hobbiest for years I can tell you that balsa is not a good choice for your craft. The nature of the wood is such that expansion and contraction from varying moisture and pressure levels will cause the joints to fail and turn the craft into a brick, which we all know do not fly well.

    Carbon fiber rods (available cheap from any decent R/C hobby shop) will provide a far better alternative as they will not be affected as badly by the conditions the craft will be exposed to. It's also really easy to work with carbon fiber and you can also make make carbon fiber materials yourself on a small scale if you guys are interested in doing so.

  99. Andrew Norris


    Check out he existing planes in Cleveland Airport: Should be good for ideas.

    But to be authentically english you should have the tip soaked in ink, ala Molesworth's ink darts.

  100. Dave Bell


    The problem any aircraft has at extreme high altitudes is that the minimum flying speed--the stall speed--rises with altitude, but the design has a critical Mach number at which bad things start to happen.

    This was a huge problem in designing the Space Shuttle, and a reason why NASA had been looking at wingless lifting body designs.

    You probably need the guts from a Wii Remote or similar to provide the input for an active control system. You can't rely on the stability features used in "free flight" flying models.

    The model aircraft people do use the same sort of sensor devices in their models for active stability. It's come a long way since I last did anything like this.

  101. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Paris Hilton

    Propper Aeronautical terms please

    @Anomalous Cowherd

    "rake of the wings"

    That would be anhediral or dinedrial (up or down) or sweep (foward or back)

    Paris, who also has been know to twatdangle

  102. JimC
    Paris Hilton

    No wood?

    Be hard to have a paper plane without any wood... But I would think that epoxy resin soaked paper (=high-tech papier mache) ought to be superior to balsa for structural members anyway.

    Vulture Venturer gets my vote for the craft , but the project name should be PARIS: Paper Airplane Into Space is too good to miss!

  103. Connor Garvey

    Too lame?

    Vulture Ship 1 riding up on the Dark Knight

  104. NoCo37
    Thumb Up

    Not a member of The Register? Create a new account to comment.

    For the airplane "aplanefromMars".

    For the launch vehicle "Twatdangle"

  105. SimpleUser

    I might have a name . . .

    Sarah Bee @ Vulture Central

    Nah ???

  106. Martin Erdelen


    High Altitude Paper Plane Yearning Beyond Earth's Edge

    And yes, let's make the operational one s/n 03568 !

  107. Scott Holland

    Why make it a vulture in name only?

    Since it will, in all likelihood, be called the Vulture (or some variation thereof), why not make it look like one too? I don't just mean a paint job. I mean something, which seen gliding majestically through the British skies, would be mistaken for an actual vulture by the casual observer.

    Mine's the one with the "Birds of Britain" book in the pocket.

  108. Eldnah

    +1, looking to model rocket community

    -1 using balsa (or any kind) of not-made-into-paper wood for airframe. It should be just paper and binder/glue/finish material.

    +1 the idea of checking out tech and techniques from model rocketry. I recall from long-ago youth an article in a model rocket newspaper describing how to make your own body tubes from paper and glue. IIRC, laminated paper strips wound in different directions around a form. Those were the days, young lad.

    For internal structural strengthening, could use thin cardboard (like that in disposable coffee cup insulators), laminated several layers thick, then cut to shape.

    Also look at SPAD model airplane construction (Simple Plastic Airplane Design, gooyabinghoogle for it). It uses corrugated plastic for wings ... so use the designs but with cardboard finished with some stiffening/weatherproofing finish. These are powered designs but there might be a glider model or two in there.

    Why put all the electronics in the plane? It could relay via heavier equipment in the ballon for at least a while, and/or to a powered craft (manned, moderatrixed, ROV, or autonomous) in the vicinity.

    Why transmit GPS? How about emitting a copy of the Sputnik signal, and using tracking and telemetry volunteers? You'd get crowd-sourced data that you could statistically crunch in the ... er ... cloud to compute likely positions. Of course you could put a GPS receiver in the plane and store its info locally, to be compared with the c{lou,row}d data later.

    What fun!

  109. aMerkin

    Yes, I'm a Merkin

    A balsa and paper "Cellulose I" with "cell phone" avionics would provide a lot of punning room here in the USA. But with "mobo", the best I can do is "Combustamobol".


  110. Andus McCoatover

    I for one welcome our Vulture overlords...but...

    Why not save a helluvalotta effort for the ship by simply stapling a few paper plates together?

    In true Blue Peter fashion, "Here's one we made earlier":

    Then, call it Beagle -1.

    I can't wait to get an invite to the splatdown.

  111. jake Silver badge

    Names (does anyone read these things before commenting?)

    "Our tentative plan is to construct three aircraft: Low altitude prototype for initial testing; fully-equipped medium altitude example for systems-test release from aircraft; and the final operational model."

    The first two are experimental prototypes, so "Vulture X" and "Vulture X II".

    The final operational model simply HAS to be called "Sarah".

    And it's not even Friday yet.

  112. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about..

    The 'king Vulture

  113. _wtf_

    balsa no good?

    Solomon Grundy, for something like 80 years balsa was the main material used for model aircraft. It is even now commonly used as a core material in composite boats. I have a model aircraft in my basement that was built in the mid sixties, and most of the original joints are still intact. The wood itself is still fine. OK, the stuff is vulnerable, particularly if soaked in water, but given a good choice of glue and a bit of protection over the top it is fine. At least to the point where most of my structural failures were caused by impact with the ground rather than material degradation. One of my gliders that spent six weeks out in the weather on a farm needed an extensive rebuild, but I don't think any other construction would have faired much better. The tailplane, rudder and fuselage were all OK, the wings had gone a bit soggy. The cows may not have improved matters either.

    Of course, balsa is not paper, but if it is vital for it to be a paper aeroplane then borrow from the techniques used by an earlier generation and make it all out of paper. (including light card) You can make some quite amazing structures with paper if you put in the time and trouble.

  114. Javc
    Black Helicopters


    Paper Aeroplane Remote Ionospheric Shuttle (PARIS) = The balloon mothership/launcher

    Vertical-drop Upper-atmospheric Long Traverse Ultra Ranging Experiment (VULTURE) = The paper aeroplane

  115. Dave Bell



    (Do I need to explain?)

  116. David Sidebotham
    Jobs Horns

    It might have escaped your notice but....

    ..model aircraft are not made of balsa wood any more, nor are RAF and USAF spy/attack aircraft come to that; you are as likely to find carbon fibre, titanium and kevlar.

    So buck up your ideal lads this is a real techno challenge. All we need is the money. Let me see now, I wonder, where did I put those Lottery Fund application forms.

  117. Anonymous Coward

    name suggestion

    how about

    Space Vulture One

  118. Andus McCoatover

    No confidence?

    Construct THREE aircraft?? You're assuming, therefore, that the first two crash beyond repair? So by implication the third isn't ready for launch. Until you've got a successful landing.

    Myst-all-Chucking-frighty, imagine if the space shuttle designers had the same mindset....

    C'mon - have a little faith in your abilities!

  119. SuperTim

    GPS Fail!!!!!!

    Commercial GPS dont work above 60K feet and 1000 knots, so good luck getting tracking data from space.

    now if you ask the yanks niceley enough for a military gps, then you are in business.

  120. Anonymous John

    @ Names

    " (Do I need to explain?)"


  121. Urbanpanda

    How about

    A4 adventurer? (a for adventurer obviously!)

  122. jwernerny


    Ham radio operators have been doing this sort of things for years, just without the plane part. You might want to take a look at some of the APRS radio trackers available here: Of course, you will need someone with an amateur radio license on that side of the pond, but I am sure some of the IT Geeks are also Ham geeks.

    Once it is launched, tracking it can be done by anyone with a web browser through APRS mapping sites. You just have to know the call sign to look for..

    - John

  123. Mary Ayala

    The Name doesn't matter as long as

    You pack each individual componenet in their own boxes which are in turn packed into a bigger box with then have to be bubble wrapped and put into an even larger box with foarm around it inside a nother box that can then be put on a palet and wrapped in plastic, all for it's own protection of course, after all we must protec the paper at all cost.

  124. Geoff Bin In
    Black Helicopters


    I like the design illustrated at :-

    although as a variation you can simply not tear off the tail

    and use it as a flying wing. You will need to bend down the wings

    and bend up the tips as well as bending up some trailing edge

    flaps to trim the flight. This flies nice and slowly.

    This would require a sheet of A4, and could provide a simple

    backup in case a more complex model was not 100% successful.

    There doesn't seem to be an aeroplane icon...

  125. Eldnah
    Black Helicopters

    Yes, we need an icon!

    @Geoff Bin In --- Yes, well spotted. Given the significance of this project to Blighty and ElReg (including faithful commentards), and the likelihood of this lark^H^H^H^Hvulture turning into a Genuine Aeronautically Significant Program (GASP), we need an icon!

    Black Helicopter 'cuz it's as close as can be gotten presently.

  126. Andus McCoatover

    @Geoff Bin In

    You mean "Jeff bin in?", referring to the late Jeffrey Bernard, frequenter of the "Coach and Horses",Soho. Near Winnet Street (Snigger!)**

    Saw the play with Tom Conti - main actor - , called "Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell"*. Brilliant. Old Vic theatre, IIRC

    Now, with Bernard, THAT was journalism. These underage Reg hacks wouldn't get it. 'Till pissed.

    *Often, the British papers he wrote for (Spectator?) would write that phrase. Everyone knew Jeff was hungover, and couldn't do his column. Piss-artist of the first order. Had he lived longer, he might have got a knighthood for "drinking well beyond the call of duty".

    ** Winnet in English might translate to mean "Klingon". Captain James T. Kirk and toilet paper. Both eliminate Klingons. Gerrit?


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