First ever 3D Printed rocket-powered aircraft is ready for a space ride
With NASA already investing in 3D printed metal rocket parts for their space ventures, technology magazine The Register along with bunch of enthusiasts are itself preparing to launch the world’s first 3D printed rocket into the space. Built by 30 committed volunteers of the company including aeronautical engineers and with the help of interested readers around the globe, it took four years to build the rocket. The project is sponsored by Exasol AG, a German data analytics firm and is titled “Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator,” or for short LOHAN.
As per the plans of the LOHAN team, they will launch the Vulture 2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Spaceport America in New Mexico later this year. An amount of US$24,000 needed for the liftoff was secured by the team on crowdfunding site Kickstarter. The first ever 3D printed spaceplane will be lifted by a huge helium-filled balloon to an altitude of 20,000m into the stratosphere under a carbon fiber launch structure. An onboard GPS will ignite the engine and will take the aircraft to about 25,000m with speeds of about 1,610kph.
Powered by Raspberry Pi, the 3kg rocket includes the off-the-shelf 3DR Pixhawk autopilot system by 3D Robotics which enables open-source programming, a camera, a radio tracker, GPS and myriad sensors and will allow it to get back to earth safely. The Vulture 2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was designed at The University of Southampton by post-graduate aeronautical design students.