A4H PR — Southampton, Pennsylvania – The era of private astronauts conducting commercial space research missions is almost here! Eight Astronauts4Hire members have successfully completed the Suborbital Scientist Training Program at the National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center in Southampton, Pennsylvania. Flight Members Christopher Altman, Kristine Ferrone, Jose Hurtado, Jason Reimuller, Brian Shiro, and Alli Taylor, along with Associate Member Jules Shiohira Ung, comprised the inaugural Astronauts4Hire class to undergo suborbital scientist training and certification. Flight Member Mindy Howard also completed the course previously.
“Centrifuge and high altitude training are core training elements that NASTAR provided to our members,” remarked Astronauts4Hire Chief Operating Officer Dr. Jason Reimuller. “The very realistic mission simulation in NASTAR’s centrifuge taught us how to physiologically adapt to rapidly changing G-forces, enabling us to anticipate these stresses in flight, adapt to them, and stay focused on our research tasks.” Flight Member Alli Taylor added, “Training at the NASTAR Center gave me confidence in what to expect and how to perform on suborbital flights.”
The three-day NASTAR Suborbital Scientist course is designed to prepare researchers with the knowledge and skills to safely cope with the rigors of suborbital spaceflight. The highlight of the first day was a session in the NASTAR high-altitude chamber that simulated an ascent to 25,000 feet and allowed the trainees to experience the effects of oxygen-deprivation, or hypoxia, firsthand. On the second day, G-tolerance flights in the NASTAR Phoenix STS-400 centrifuge subjected the trainees to maximum sustained loads of 3.5 times Earth’s gravity oriented up-and-down (eyeballs-down) and 6 times Earth’s gravity oriented front-to-back (eyeballs-in). These flights trained the Astronauts4Hire members to recognize and mitigate the symptoms of gravity-induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC). The course culminated on the third day with centrifuge runs simulating the complete suborbital flight profile of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle.
The Astronauts4Hire trainees also completed a distraction and time management exercise to illustrate the need for planning and practice to ensure mission success during a short-duration spaceflight with limited working space and potentially stressful conditions. “The most important factor in any space mission is the team of people who work together to make it a success,” reflected Flight Member Christopher Altman. “Working and training together as a team has been of invaluable experience to our professional capabilities to conduct research on future missions.”
Going forward, Astronauts4Hire and NASTAR will collaborate to refine and further develop curricula to prepare future scientist crews. “The Astronauts4Hire are a committed and focused group of individuals,” said Brienna Henwood, Director of Space Training and Research Programs at the NASTAR Center. “They understood the curriculum, completed Altitude Physiology, and executed proper techniques during all spaceflight launch and reentry phases of training. NASTAR Center is proud to add the eight Astonauts4Hire members to our growing list of prepared commercial spaceflight trainees.”