In addition to working as Odyssey Moon’s chief scientist and his part-time gig critiquing NASA, Alan Stern seems to have picked up yet another job: evaluating research and education mssions for Jeff Bezos’ secretive Blue Origin company.
The forner NASA science chief is now listed as Blue Origin’s “independent representative for research and education missions” on its website. The company is seeking proposals for itsÂ New Shepard suborbital vehicle, which it is currently testing in Texas. (Thanks to Clark Lindsey of Hobby Space for finding this page.)
“Blue Origin expects the first opportunities for experiments requiring an accompanying researcher astronaut to be available in 2012. Flight opportunities in 2011 may be available for autonomous or remotely-controlled experiments on an uncrewed flight test,” the website states.
The site also includes details on the actual vehicle. “The New Shepard vehicle will consist of a pressurized Crew Capsule (CC) carrying experiments and astronauts atop a reliable Propulsion Module (PM). Flights will take place from Blue Originâ€™s own launch site, which is already operating in West Texas. New Shepard will take-off vertically and accelerate for approximately two and a half minutes before shutting off its rocket engines and coasting into space.
“The vehicle will carry rocket motors enabling the Crew Capsule to escape from the PM in the event of a serious anomaly during launch. In space, the Crew Capsule will separate from the PM and the two will reenter and land separately for re-use. The Crew Capsule will land softly under a parachute at the launch site. Astronauts and experiments will experience no more than 6 g acceleration into their seats and a 1.5 g lateral acceleration during a typical flight. High-quality microgravity environments (<10-3 g) will be achieved for durations of 3 or more minutes, depending on the mission trajectory.”