NSRC Day 3 Summary

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)
Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.

Masten Space Systems

Sean Mahoney
Masten CEO

Khaki Rodway
Masten Business Development Specialist

Anthony Harness
University of Colorado Boulder

Webster Cash
University of Colorado Boulder

Nick Demidovich
FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation

  • Masten offers two vehicles, XaeroB and Xodiac
  • Xombie vehicle is in semi-retirement
  • Masten will begin work in the near future on a multi-engine vehicle that will allow for more flight profiles
  • Masten is not focused on any human spaceflight work
  • Masten has worked with NASA JPL, Draper Laboratory, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Colorado Boulder , Astrobotic, and FAA AST
  • NASA JPL and Masten worked together on Terrain Relative Navigation technology that will fy on NASA 2020 mission
  • NASA JPL and Masten are continuing to work together on Mars landing technology
  • UC-Boulder used XaeroB flights to test starshade technology
  • UC-Boulder eventually want to test starshade technology in the stratosphere
  • Masten provided a way to test starshade technology before using it on an expensive mission
  • XaeroB is very stable when hovering even in winds of more than 20 knots
  • FAA AST tested Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) with Masten

Virgin Galactic

Will Pomerantz
Vice President for Special Projects

Sirisha Bandla
Government Affairs

  • Conducting ground vibration testing of second SpaceShipTwo with WhiteKnightTwo
  • Virgin Galactic will not conduct any full research flights under after SpaceShipTwo is in commercial service
  • SpaceShipTwo flight tests may be used to fly some pathfinder experiments
  • Space tourism and research flights will be separated
  • SpaceShipTwo experiments must be fully automated
  • Possibility of human-tended experiments in the future
  • Virgin Galactic believes Stephen Hawking will be able to fly on SpaceShipTwo despite his weakened physical condition

Research Result From First Flight Panel

Dan Durda
Southwest Research Institute
“Science on New Shepard: Preliminary Results from the Box-of-Rocks Experiment (BORE)”

Josh Colwell
University of Central Florida
“Science on New Shepard: First Results from COLLIDE-3”

Anna-Lisa Paul
University of Florida
“Taking Biology to the Edge – Gene Expression in the Transition from Earth to Space”


  • Box-of-Rocks Experiment (BORE) designed to understand surface properties of small asteroids with weak gravity
  • Goal was to study how the materials settled after exposure to microgravity as New Shepard re-entered atmosphere
  • Experiment performed exactly as planned


  • Experiment studied particle collisions in microgravity
  • Received great support from Blue Origin for New Shepard flight

Anna-Lisa Paul

  • Experiments studying gene expression in plants in microgravity
  • Flying experiments on on parabolic flights and F-104 jets