It is rocket science! World's first 3D craft set for take-off

October 10, 2014
The 3D printed rocket is seen prior to assembly in central London on October 10, 2014

Fuelled by beer and the enthusiasm of amateurs, a British team on Friday said it was preparing to launch the world's first ever 3D printed rocket.

Showing off the human-sized in a central London office, Lester Haines, head of the "Special Projects Bureau" at technology magazine The Register, described the technical challenges and "big future" of 3D printing in aeronautics.

"You can do highly complex shapes that simply aren't practical to do any other way," he told AFP, dressed in a white lab coat sporting the project motto "Ad astra tabernamque", which means "to the stars and the pub".

"NASA are already 3D-printing metal rocket parts, so it's obviously got a big future."

The project—sponsored by German data analytics firm Exasol—was suggested by readers of The Register and goes by the grand title "Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator", or LOHAN for short.

It took 30 committed team-members, including doctorate aeronautical engineers, four years to build the rocket.

The biggest challenge, according to Haines, was getting the standard hobbyist rocket motor to fire at high altitudes.

The team said it will launch the rocket from Spaceport America, the home of Virgin Galactic in New Mexico, later this year, after securing the £15,000 ($24,000, 19,000 euros) needed for lift-off on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.

Director of the film team Fenke Fros (L), managing director of Exasol UK Guy Lipscombe (C) and head of the special projects bureau, Lester Haines (R) pose with their 3D printed rocket in central London on October 10, 2014

A huge helium balloon will lift the rocket 20,000 metres (65,600 feet) into the stratosphere, at which point the onboard GPS will ignite the engine, catapulting it to speeds of around 1,000 miles (1,610 kilometres) per hour.

The three-kilogramme rocket, which cost £6,000 to print, will then use an onboard autopilot to guide it back to Earth, all captured by an onboard video camera.

Haines explained how 3D printing's main advantage was in speeding up the process of refining prototypes, requiring only a tweak to the computer-aided design (CAD) plans that instruct the printer.

He called LOHAN "a because it's there project", and had no commercial value, but added that the number of potential uses for similar Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) was "endless".

With the countdown on, Haines dispelled any suggestions the crew was feeling the pressure.

"We got some of the team turning up for a beer tonight," he revealed. "It's going to get really messy."

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5 comments

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Anakin
1 / 5 (2) Oct 11, 2014
They write about it but it is another paper so they don't wan't to type the url
Read more at http://www.thereg...p/lohan/
afm
not rated yet Oct 11, 2014
Well, nice project, but by no means the world's first 3D printed rocket. I launched two 3D printed Rockets last weekend myself, here is an article of a local radio station about the event, complete with picture of me and the 3D printed rocket: http://www.rtn.ch...ees.html

And that was not the first 3D-printed rocket either, just go to youtube and use the search function, or go to www.thingiverse.com to find files to print a rocket yourself.

My rocket may have been the first high power rocket launch, as I have not seen any high power rockets on youtube or thingiverse, but using a 3D-printer to build a rocket is such an obvious idea that some certainly must have done it long ago...
zoljah
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2014
it basically means we can start to print rockets to carry our homemade satellites out into the orbit for just a few bucks.. nowadays technology availability is amazing isnt it?

\\waiting for the youtube livestream private drone space missions
zoljah
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2014
while we at it; ***** consored *****

wouldnt it be fun to see this in the hands of ISIS?
Dug
1 / 5 (1) Oct 13, 2014
Lot's of stuff in the rocket wasn't 3D printed and never will be, but as usual with 3D topics - we can all still pretend that using a computerized plastic daubing machine to print plastic shapes is going to change the world. I'm still trying to figure out if they 3D printed the guy with the pipe, or just his pipe. Frankly, I would be more impressed if they'd 3D printed their beer.

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