Monthly Archive for February, 2011

Commercial Suborbital Flights and Vehicle Development

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Dr. Alan Stern

Dr. Alan Stern

Some notes from today’s Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference concerning upcoming flights and vehicle development. In this report: Southwest Research Institute, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems, Blue Origin and Teachers in Space.

Southwest Research Institute – Alan Stern

  • Eight flights on XCOR and Virgin Galactic vehicles, with options for up to 17 missions
  • SwRI scientists will fly after XCOR and Virgin Galactic have FAA licenses
  • XCOR flights will be on Lynx Mark I (maximum altitude of 61 kilometers)
  • Expect that flights will have occurred by the 2013 Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference
  • Previously spent nearly a decade to fly seven microgravity experiments; will be able to do eight flights within a year
  • Three experiments already prepared for suborbital flights
  • Flights will involve a “significant number of experiments”
  • Putting scientists back in the loop on experiments — less remote control
  • Scientists on board reduce the cost of automation, they can react to data on a real-time basis and make changes

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Air Force Vet Appointed as NM Spaceport Authority Executive Director

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SANTA FE – Governor Susana Martinez announced today that the Spaceport Authority Board of Directors has named Christine Anderson as Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Anderson previously served for 30 years in civilian positions with the United States Air Force, including several years at New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base.

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Virgin Galactic Plans Engine Test Soon

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Notes from a press conference and session in which Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spaceflight plans were discussed.

Virgin Galactic – CEO George Whitesides

SpaceShipTwo Engine Development

  • Preparing to do a 40-second burn on SS2 engine
  • full flight requires about 70-sec burn.
  • Showed video that appears to show same engine footage released in 2009
  • Progress is ongoing, don’t release information about all tests

Test Flight Program and Schedule

  • 49 WhiteKnightTwo flights
  • 4 SpaceShipTwo glide flights
  • Additional glide flights upcoming
  • Powered flights later this year
  • Hope for suborbital flights later this year or early 2012
  • Commercial flights will depend on success of testing and FAA licensing
  • Safety is the “North Star” of Virgin Galactic
  • May eventually fly students and teachers in space — great for STEM education

Teachers in Space, Make Magazine to Develop Space Science Kits

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MAKE MAGAZINE PR — Orlando, FL - Make Magazine, the leading do-it-yourself publication for technology hobbyists and experimenters, is partnering with Teachers in Space to help develop space science kits that high-school teachers can build and fly on suborbital and orbital flights.

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SwRI’s Space Flights by the Numbers: 8 to 17 by 3

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SwRI PR — Bolder, Colorado — February 28, 2011 — Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced pioneering agreements today to send three scientists as payload specialists aboard eight suborbital flights — some to altitudes greater than 350,000 feet, above the internationally recognized boundary of space.

No other organization has yet concluded contracts to fly its researchers in space aboard next-generation suborbital spacecraft. Also unique is the number of payload specialist researcher seats involved — eight at a minimum, with options up to 17 high altitude or space flights.

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Space Show Covers Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference

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The Space Show for this week….

SPECIAL TIME: Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 6:30-7:30 PM PST: Live from the Next Gen Suborbital Conference in Orlando, Florida, our guests are David McBride (Director, NASA Dryden Spaceflight Center where CRuSR is managed) and Dr. Alan Stern (NSRC meeting organizer).

SPECIAL TIME: Tuesday, March 1, 2011, 5:00-6:00 PM PST: Live from the Net Gen Suborbital Conference in Orlando, Florida, our guests are Brett Alexander, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

SPECIAL TIME: Wednesday, March 2, 2011, 5-6PM PST: Live from the Next Gen Suborbital Conference in Orlando, our guests are Dr. Alan Stern & Cindy Conrad. We will be wrapping up the conference and more with our two conference guests.

Friday, March 4, 2011, 9:30-11AM PST: We welcome back Max Vozoff who is now a consultant in commercial space and crew Business Development after having been part of the SpaceX team for five years.

Sunday, March 6, 2011, 12-1:30 PM PST: We welcome back Chris Carberry, Executive Director of ExploreMars.org to talk about new programming and outreach with ExploreMars.org.

XCOR Announces Suborbital Payload Integration Network

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XCOR PR — February 28th, 2011, Orlando, FL, USA: At the commencement of the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) being held in Orlando, Florida, XCOR Aerospace announced its initial team of suborbital payload integration specialists who will begin taking orders and facilitating experiment development and integration for commercial, educational and government suborbital research missions aboard XCOR’s Lynx reusable suborbital launch vehicle. Capable of up to four flights per day, the Lynx is expected to provide three to four minutes of micro-gravity and/or exposure to the harsh environment of space and the opportunity to investigate largely unknown regions of our upper atmosphere critical to environmental studies.

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Astrogenetix Continues Work on Staphylococcus Vaccine on Discovery

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Astrogenetix PR – NASA astronauts onboard Space Shuttle Discovery’s final mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will carry out the eleventh scientific payload for Astrogenetix, a commercial biotech company based out of Austin, Texas. The research on STS-133 will focus on changes that occur to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in microgravity, which can be targeted to create new vaccines and therapeutics.

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Suborbital Experiment Integrator Announcement Expected

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Charles Lurio, author of The Lurio Report, says that there will be an announcement today concerning suborbital payload integration at the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference:
Announcement of Global Network of Suborbital Experiment Integrators - I hear that on Monday, February 28 at the NSRC a global network of 6-10 payload integration partners will be announced for one of the new suborbital vehicles.
The sessions start in a couple of hours. Look for updates here and on Twitter @spacecom.

SwRI’s Lynx and SSTwo Flights: A Comparison

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The Southwest Research Institute has signed deals with both XCOR and Virgin Galactic to fly research scientists on the Lynx and SpaceShipTwo vehicles, respectively. Both deals are being touted as historic firsts for emerging industry. Are they both right? Yes, actually.

Confused? Let me explain.

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