back to article So, what's happening with LOHAN? Sweet FAA, that's what

In September last year, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team wrapped a successful Kickstarter campaign to take the launch of our Vulture 2 rocket-powered spaceplane to the US of A. As long-term readers know, this tin-rattling was prompted by a quite remarkable series of events - involving the attempted import …

  1. seven of five

    Can´t you

    pose as germans and apply for permission to launch from a submarine right off their coast?

    "Sis will be our Version 2 attempt to launch from submarine number nein (IX) ... quite a drumbeat..." Just don´t let them go into hedgehog mode at you.

    1. AlgernonFlowers4

      Re: Can´t you

      Ask Paris Hilton to show you the stairway to heaven?

    2. Rustident Spaceniak

      Re: Can´t you

      Incidentally, you could launch from Germany with clearance from the local authorities - in this case the DFS - and after having followed a mandatory three-day (?) explosives-handling course to obtain a license to, you guessed it, handle explosives. But if you'd even consider going to rougher climates than Spain or New Mexico, I'd recommend Denmark or Sweden, where I understand the regulatory situation is much easier.

    3. NoneSuch Silver badge

      Simple solution

      Add an NSA provided spy package to the cargo bay and watch the bureaucratic paperwork disappear almost immediately. Plus, you'll get a 2.3 billion dollar payment from some black bank account in Panama as an added bonus.

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    French Guiana or, controversially, Russia since Putin's planes are currently bombing Syria, they won't be there to shoot down balloons. I also believe that any paperwork needed is officially called 'rubles'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Dollars, more like.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I've never understood why you didn't...

    ...take LOHAN down under.

    Can't think of anywhere more appropriate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I've never understood why you didn't...

      Because it would be pointing in the wrong direction and instead of falling back to earth would disappear into deep space.

  4. Anonymous Custard

    Thunderbirds are go?

    Good to have an update, even if the news isn't as good as we'd have liked.

    One thought did strike though in relation to Virgin Galactic. Would it be worth getting in touch with Beardy Branson and getting him on-side, either to have some leverage with VG or just for the publicity angle that it could no doubt generate for his organisation.

    Or even failing that he could maybe let you launch the thing from Necker Island, in true TB stylie...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Would Denmark be any better? I'm just wondering whether the chaps at Copenhagen Sub-Orbitals woudl be able to assist in some way.

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

      Re: Denmark?

      Anywhere in Europe is off the possible launch site list, since we can't get the motor reload there. Ditto Australia.

      1. Aitor 1

        Re: Denmark?

        humm, Russia?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Denmark?

          Seems like the obvious choice, might get RT interested when you tell them how US and EU governments blocked it.

          Possibly hard to get US explosives delivered to Russia without an arms export/import licence, but the Ruskies must be able to whip together an equivalent motor...

      2. Holtsmark Silver badge

        Re: Denmark?

        Dear Lester, are you telling me that you, with your much touted extracuricular skills, can not assemble as simple solid rocket booster (possibly performing said assembly in a rowing boat well out in international waters)?

        I am disappointed...

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: Denmark?

          "(possibly performing said assembly in a rowing boat well out in international waters)"

          Hmm, doesn't someone have a specially designed ocean going landing platform that he might consider letting someone use as a launching platform, just for the publicity?

      3. Rustident Spaceniak

        Re: Denmark?

        Are you really sure about that, Lester? I'm fairly sure the corresponding regulations differ between EU countries (except if your motor reload is considered military hardware, in which case the US of A won't let it out of the country). Maybe check with the other Euro rocketry guys over at; or consider Switzerland: They have an annual high-power amateur rocket event so there must be a possibility there to operate largish amateur rockets.

      4. Francis Vaughan

        Re: Denmark?

        Oz shouldn't be an issue:

        Go up to Woomera - the place is designed for purpose. Serious amateur rockets geeks fly stuff from there.

        It would not be hard to hook you up with the right people.

        1. Dr. Mouse

          Re: Denmark?

          What about moving the launch from New Mexico to (Old) Mexico?

          Everything's legal in Mehico. It's the American way!

    2. CRConrad

      Ah, Copenhagen Sub-Orbitals

      The leader of which has since acquired quite a different kind of fame.

  6. Steve Goodey

    Come on....

    FFS it's not rocket science!

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

      Re: Come on....

      Our thoughts exactly.

      1. Peter Simpson 1

        Re: Come on....

        No, it's far worse -- it's US Government bureaucracy!

        // I wish I could help...

        // probably spent all their money on JADE HELM 15

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Just launch the damn thing !

    I guess it's easier (and cheaper) to pay a fine afterwards than to go through all this bureaucratic nonsense ! (or having to build an explosives factory...)

    1. Ed3

      Re: Just launch the damn thing !

      Big corporations pay fines. Small volunteer groups of individuals go to jail and get a criminal record.

  8. Pen-y-gors

    Plan C (D? E?)

    a) buy rocket reload in USA

    b) find intrepid US commentard who fancies an attempt at rowing the Atlantic single-handed, taking rocket reloads as cargo

    c) divert boat to Rockall

    d) LAUNCH!

  9. ukgnome

    Failed like so many kickstarters.

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

      I think that's slightly premature.

      1. ukgnome

        I don't wish to be mean Lester, as a backer I just wan't to be sure that my money is well spent. At the moment it doesn't feel that way.

        1. DryBones

          But it's not their fault.

          I too am wondering if it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission at this point. Cripes.

        2. briesmith

          Well Spent

          Are you mad? Do you know what these bumbling fools are doing? What their dream is?

          They are building a balloon or a rocket or some combination of both which they will then launch into the heavens.

          Nobody investing in this project can possibly be a supporter of money being well spent. The whole idea is mad; something done for the hell of it. There will be never any monetary gain to be had from this; just the right to say, over and over, "told you" with all the smugness you can summon.

          If what you are after is unlikely profit gain I recommend you buy a lottery ticket or a premium bond.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        "I think that's slightly premature."

        We really don't need to hear about your "one night in Paris", Lester!

  10. Flash.Gordon

    Other ideas

    Suggest that you are taking your launch to Canada and see whether that speeds things up (it did for amazon).

    Otherwise ask SpaceX founder Elon Musk to borrow one of his barges and fly it out in international waters.

  11. Known Hero

    Buy a Boat, Launch from international waters.

    *Edit apologies for the late entry, I have been beaten to the punch!!!

  12. Alvar

    Why not ..

    Launch it from the top of the stack of paperwork generated by this process, that way you could just stick a firework up the back end and still reach the target altitude.

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

      Re: Why not ..

      The paperwork stack has already exceeded the target launch altitude, so we could throw it off the top.

  13. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    USA! USA! USA!

    Can't you find some way to stick a Stars and Stripes patch on it, get Fox News on the case, to give Oba^W the relevant authorities a kicking to speed things up?

    You can replace the patch when the job's done.

  14. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Remember that glider aiming at 30k metres?

    You featured it earlier this week.

    Could you perhaps have a word with the pilot and ask him to drop ours over the side while he's up there?

  15. Craig Vaughton

    Why Not Ask?

    What about asking the British National Space Centre and launch from their extensive facility near Leicester?

    The sign on the M1 makes me laugh every time I see it. Oh what could have been barring a government with no idea.

  16. Knewbie


    I seem to remember you rejected my contibution for the winning spot during the last naming competition...

    For just a ElReg Mug and a 2XL Tshirt discreetly sent to my postal adress, I might (...might !!!) allow you to reconsider and retroactively name your next mission after this nice, genuinely descriptive acronym ^^

    (I am also agreeable to any BOFH paraphernalia in recognition of your lack of insight in not selecting my contribution the first time... ;p )

  17. Alistair

    its time.

    Lester, go visit Trevor. Hell, I'll drive out there and deal with the gubernatalia if need be. It really wont take 2 years to get this done.

  18. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Could you

    ask Mr Richard Branson for his personal help on this? You would have to stick a Virgin logo on it, probably.

    Or maybe look for a friendly explosives factory in Europe which can import the rocket fuel. (Aldermaston is just down the road from me in Reading, I could nip along and ask the gate guard if you like?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Could you

      " You would have to stick a Virgin logo on it, probably."

      I'd posit that sticking a virgin on Mr. Branson might help even more...

  19. Richard Altmann


    You could have slipped that spanish guy his 100€ "Stamp Fee" and everything would have been fine. Well, taking on the Bureaucratic Way adds some flavour to the truly exiting experiment of LOHAN. Shooting The Playmonaut somewheeere up theeeere! The Vogons have taken over and i love/laugh to be informed on how you cope with it. Thank You for that long awaited update. In the mean time ... aren´t there some Pin Ups of LOHAN available?

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Standards

      "Shooting the Playmonaut" - is this a new euphemism I haven't seen before?

      Enquiring minds, etc.

      1. Richard Altmann

        Re: Standards

        As in Shooting a bullet

  20. Triple-J

    Well, crap

    The news saddens this Las Crucen but doesn't surprise her. I had been asking around to various friends to see if anyone knew anyone at the FAA who could put in a good word for LOHAN and all I got were stories of how awful the FAA is. Part of the problem, too, with the Spaceport end of things is that every time they do something even slightly off (for example, having school children launch model rockets out there), they get hammered in the phone-in opinion section of the newspaper about how useless they are and what a waste of our tax money it is. I am quite cranky now but still up for a road trip to Colorado if need be.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Well, crap

      The FAA is mainly just really, really conservative. In their line of work you aren't rewarded for allowing interesting new stuff to happen, but you're severely punished if something crashes.

      1. Marshalltown

        Re: Well, crap

        This a novel worth reading:

        It will seem eerily familiar to LOHAN followers.

  21. WalterAlter

    Some anarchists you turned out to be

    Lookit, just find some half acre of real estate between radar zones, buy the farmer a new TV, launch, recover and run like hell. If Philippe Petit can access the roofs of the former Twin Towers, shoot a messenger line across, stretch a cable between them and tightrope walk across, then what's stopping you? Google "Suicide Club, San Francisco" to see how it's done and maybe even get them to help put together a hit and run crew. Or better, launch the sucker at Burning Man, have all the attendees admit that they did the launch and watch the FAA try to arrest 70,000 naked, drug crazed ravers...

  22. Sporkinum

    UAV Madness

    Like you mentioned in the article, UAV madness has taken hold at the FAA, and may be a real reason why nothing is getting done. Lots of rubes think that helicopter destroying, privacy raping, baby killing UAVs are everywhere and that it is the first step of the robot uprising.

    1. Knewbie

      Re: UAV Madness

      Maybe that's thé out... Declare it as an experimental vertical launch rocket powered drone...

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Re: UAV Madness

      Hey, you laugh now, but when you're armed with only a crowbar and one's chasing you down a sewer tunnel you won't be so flip.

      1. M Gale

        Re: UAV Madness

        So long as I get the stylish hazmat suit to go with it, shouldn't be a huge problem.

  23. Oldfogey

    Copenhagen Sub-Orbitals

    I believe that this lot fire from a boat (or plan to), and also have a coastal location in Norway. Norway is not in the EU, so there is a fair chance it has its own rules.

    Have a word with those guys - they sound as mad as El Reg anyway, and might be able and willing to help for a contribution to their funds.

  24. Chrissy


    Brazil..... Terry Gilliam must have tried to open an explosives factory.

  25. John Sturdy

    Appropriate (although challenging)

    There'd be a certain satisfaction in launching from Rockall; I think that's the best suggestion so far, and it's probably easier than from Everest.

    That being said, some people say China's not bad for lack of over-applied regulations.

  26. ma1010

    Consider the National Association of Rocketry

    This is an actual organization that has launch events in various parts of the US (including New Mexico and Colorado). I realize LOHAN is a balloon, but if they're firing rockets into the air at an event, it shouldn't be too hard to get permission to launch a balloon, and the fact that LOHAN includes a rocket engine might pique their interest.

    Here is their web site:

  27. json

    Thanks for the Update Les!

    in the meantime my lohan mug will remain a pen holder, never to hold any liquid until we see her bottom in the stratosphere!

  28. Notas Badoff

    "There is then a 2,735-page form, ... each page individually stamped and signed by your local mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, an officer of the Guardia Civil and two doctors, ..."

    I am in awe at this example of government sponsored requirement for bribery.

  29. Dewlap


    Maybe you should try to launch at LDRS next year.

  30. Brian Miller

    Spanish Explosives Factory

    Why not try and enlist the help of a Spanish explosives factory? You might find a sympathetic ear.

    The other alternative is try various other countries for the launch. Maybe Mexico? Other countries in central and south America? How about Africa?

  31. james 68

    Launch from the Principality of Sealand, whilst giving the rest of the known world a healthy two fingered salute.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    These guys are smashing it....

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How about iceland.. Not in the EU ..and you could wait till the cano blows and nobody will notice a little bit extra lobbed up into the STRATOSsphere?

  34. Martin Budden Silver badge

    But isn't Colorado still in the US?

    Your problem with New Mexico is that the FAA are dragging their feet with approval. Your Plan B seems to be to hop across a state line and launch from Colorado instead. But what with the FAA being "Federal" i.e. covering all states, how will moving from New Mexico to Colorado make any difference to the approval process?

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

      Re: But isn't Colorado still in the US?

      Because Edge Research have a relationship with the FAA based on their previous launches in Colorado.

  35. Brian Miller

    Use a water-powered rocket!

    Since the lads at the University of Cape Town have a water rocket that ascends to 830m (2,721ft), why not use that instead of the rocket engine? I can't possibly imagine that the authorities would have a problem with that as a propulsion system.

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

      Re: Use a water-powered rocket!

      Can't help feeling that might freeze at 20,000m...

      1. Brian Miller

        Re: Use a water-powered rocket!

        Ah, but surely there is a liquid that won't freeze at those temperatures. It's only -70°F, and there are commercially available antifreezes that work down to -84°F.

  36. carlsonjma

    No clearance required

    Regarding the aircraft designed to fly above 60,000 feet, no clearance is needed to fly there. 18,000 through 60,000 is Class A (IFR clearance required), but above 60,000, if you can get there, is Class E. No clearance or even radio communication is required to fly there.

  37. Farnet

    Sorted - contact the NRA

    Ahhh the Americans,

    I have a solution....

    Tell them its a new style of firearm, you'd have Walmart touting for business and the NRA endorsing it and pushing it through the government within minutes.

  38. Fred Bauer

    ATA Carnet

    Lifting a pint to Miatta Momoh, dealing with the ticking time-bomb that an ATA Carnet is can't be fun. I know from experience.

  39. Baldy50


    I'm sure Kim Jong-un and the North Korean military would love to see something go up without a hitch for a change.

    Funny if you type in 'PARIS' on your browser the predecessor to LOHAN you get loads of lovely pictures of the tower etc... Now try that with LOHAN!

    Regards, Ian.

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