LAS CRUCES, NM (NMSA PR) – The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) congratulates the seven companies selected by NASA to provide near-space flight services. In a statement from NASA on August 9, each of these companies will integrate and fly technology payloads to the boundary of space using commercial suborbital launch systems as part of a package of contracts worth a combined total of $10 million. Several of the companies selected have conducted operations from Spaceport America.
VG PR — Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, has been selected by NASA to provide flight opportunities for engineers, technologists and scientific researchers to fly technology payloads into space. This arrangement marks the first time that NASA has contracted with a commercial partner to provide flights into space on a suborbital spacecraft, and represents another important endorsement of the value of regular commercial space access for a wide range of science and educational applications.
An FAA-sponsored payload (an ADS-B transmitter, loaned to NASA by MITRE Corporation), will fly on NASA-funded CRuSR missions. This payload will be hosted on both the Masten Space Systems Xaero reusable launch vehicle (RLV). This vehicle will operate in Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing (VTVL) mode with minimal lateral translation during flight. A NASA payload that will monitor vibration and other environmental parameters during flight will also fly on this mission. This is the first experimental payload NASA has selected to fly on a commercial RLV as part of their CRuSR Program.
The Masten Space Systems Xaero vehicle will operate from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, CA. It will fly twice to an altitude of up to 17,900 feet above MSL. The Masten Space Systems Xaero CRuSR mission will occur NET mid-July 2011.
Another penny wise, pound foolish move by politicians supposedly concerned about America’s leadership in space. CRuSR is a small investment (a rounding error in NASA’s human spaceflight effort) that has huge potential payoff in an emerging area.
NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist has published detailed information about suborbital vehicles that will be available beginning in 2011 for researchers to conduct microgravity experiments. The vehicles are being built by Armadillo Aerospace,Â Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic and XCOR.
Today we will look at platforms being offered by Armadillo Aerospace. The Texas company expects to make the first flight under the NASA funded Commercial Reusable Suborbital Research (CRuSR) program in January, begin commercial cargo operations in 2011, and start human spaceflight by the end of 2012.