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
SANTA FE â€“ 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 Mexicoâ€™s Kirtland Air Force Base.
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.
SwRI PR â€” Bolder, Colorado â€” February 28, 2011 â€” Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced pioneering agreements today to send three scientists as payload specialists aboard eight suborbital flights â€” 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 â€” eight at a minimum, with options up to 17 high altitude or space flights.
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 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 XCORâ€™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.
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.
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.
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.
Virgin Galacticâ€™s signed contract with the Southwest Research Institute is the first such agreement to fly scientists into space (over 100 kilometers or 328,000 feet above the Earth), enabling valuable microgravity, biology, climate and astronomy research.
As part of the contract announced today, SwRI has made full deposits for two researchers to fly on Virgin Galacticâ€™s spacecraft, with the intent to make similar arrangements for an additional six seats for a total value of $1.6m. As well as flying its own researchers, who will carry scientific experiments developed by its in-house technical staff, SwRI also aims to assist American researchers who do not have direct spaceflight experience to develop and fly their payloads and personnel on suborbital missions.
The Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference kicked off tonight with a reception at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. There was muchnetworking accomplished and alcohol and food consumed, although not necessarily in that order.
It looks like it will be an interesting couple of days. It seems that the Southwest Research Institute’s decision to purchase six flights on XCOR’s Lynx is only part of the story. The full scope of the work will be revealed tomorrow. Not clear what that exactly means, but stay tuned here and at @spacecom.Â There is a press conference on Monday afternoon that may answer those questions.
Pentagon Considering Commercial Launches for Space Experiments Space News
On the heels of its successful November launch, the U.S. Air Forceâ€™s Space Test Program has begun planningÂ a mission that could involve hosting military experiments on commercial satellites or hitching a ride to space on a commercial launch vehicle.
The Space Test Program at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., organizes space launches for experiments developed by many government agencies. The most recent STP-S26 mission crammed seven small satellites atop a Minotaur 4 rocket and demonstrated numerous technologies that the military may incorporate into future operational missions.
YN PR — Washington, DC — Yuri’s Night is excited to commemorate the 50th anniversary of human spaceflight by launching two contests: the â€œCall to Humanityâ€ Space Exploration Ad Competition, which calls on talented graphic designers, artists, and other creative individuals to create a powerful and inspiring print campaign that will move people to think about and support humanityâ€™s future in space, and the “International Space Sweepstakes,” a free global drawing.