Updates From Blue Origin, Space Angels, Exos Aerospace & More

New Shepard booster fires its engine just over the landing pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference was held in Colorado earlier this week. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks tweeted the sessions:

Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News
Laura Seward Forczyk @LauraForczyk

Below are summaries of a number of talks based on their tweets.  The talks included Erika Wagner of Blue Origin, Dylan Taylor of Space Angels, John Quinn of Exos Aerospace, Tim Lachenmeier of Near Space Corporation, Lewis Groswald of the University of Colorado Boulder, and Alain Berinstain of Moon Express.

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Drone Flight Tests FAA’s Technologies for Spacecraft Re-entry

Near Space Corporation launched its balloon borne high-altitude drone from Tillamook, Oregon, carrying a special payload with FAA new technologies on board. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)
Near Space Corporation launched its balloon borne high-altitude drone from Tillamook, Oregon, carrying a special payload with FAA new technologies on board. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)

High-Altitude Drone Tests New Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, surveillance technologies potential to support commercial spacecraft

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (NASA PR) — A drone released from a high-altitude balloon carried a payload to evaluate how the equipment could help the FAA detect and track commercial spacecraft entering the National Air Space, NAS, as it descends from space.

Near Space Corporation, NSC, in Tillamook, Oregon, conducted the flight test on Oct. 3 under the first FAA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) test site for UAS high-altitude Certificate of Authorization, COA. With that flight, NSC became the first commercial suborbital space company to conduct a flight test under the agency’s UAS rules.

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Near Space Corporation Upgrades Flight Facility, Integrates Drone Operations

near_space_logoBROOMFIELD, Colo. (Near Space Corporation PR) — Near Space Corporation, a commercial flight test provider supporting NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program, is proud to announce a major upgrade to the Johnson Near Space Center in support of the new collocated Tillamook UAS Test Range.

The $1.4 million dollar upgrade utilized grants from the State of Oregon, to provide essential infrastructure and key range personnel to further the testing and integration of unmanned aircraft. The upgrades provide a unique instrumented range that encompasses both low and high altitude airspace for the testing of unmanned technologies outside of restricted airspace.

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A Summary of NSRC Day 1

Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)
Precise thrust vector control and deep throttling enable pinpoint booster landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The three-day Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference began today in Colorado. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I have compiled highlights of a very newsworthy day via Twitter posts. (You can follow along with hashtag #nsrc2016.)

Below is a summary of news and updates provided by Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, World View Enterprises, Exos Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, Near Space Corporation, and NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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NASA Flight Opportunities Awards Contract to Near Space Corporation

A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm's small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013. (Credit: Near Space Corp.)
A Near Space Corporation balloon lifts the firm’s small HASS shuttle glider during a test flight in 2013. (Credit: Near Space Corp.)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a Commercial Space Flight and Integrations Services contract to Near Space Corporation of Tillamook, Oregon, to provide commercial space flight and integration systems for the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program.

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Terminal Velocity Aerospace Tests Recoverable Experiments Capsule

High-altitude balloon lifts space reentry capsule for flight test. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)
High-altitude balloon lifts space reentry capsule for flight test. (Credit: Near Space Corporation)

TILLAMOOK, Ore. (NASA PR) — A prototype capsule that one day will return science experiments to Earth was tested by releasing it from a high-altitude balloon in Tillamook, Oregon. Technology like this capsule could one day return biological samples and other small payloads from space in a relatively short time.

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Terminal Velocity Aerospace to Demonstrate Payload Return Capsule

Terminal_VelocityATLANTA, GA, April 14, 2015 (TVA PR) – Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) was recently selected by the NASA Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) for demonstration of a small payload return capsule and associated technologies via a high-altitude drop test. Flight test of the prototype capsule will demonstrate mission-enabling communications technologies and verify integrated performance, including functionality of its parachute recovery system. This activity is directly aligned with TVA’s efforts to develop a small reentry device, RED-4U, capable of returning the payload mass and volume equivalent of four or more CubeSats. In addition, as part of this drop test, a payload provided by Dr. Abba Zubair of the Mayo Clinic in collaboration with the Center for Applied Space Technology (CAST-ARMM) and Morehead State University will serve as a pathfinder for the transportation of high value space-based research products from space back to a terrestrial laboratory.

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NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program Looks to Busy 2014

An exterior camera on the forward portion of UP Aerospace' SL-8 sounding rocket captures this spectacular view of the Earth's horizon during its flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico for NASA's Flight Opportunities Program last November. (Credit: UP Aerospace)
An exterior camera on the forward portion of UP Aerospace’ SL-8 sounding rocket captures this spectacular view of the Earth’s horizon during its flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico for NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program last November. (Credit: UP Aerospace)
EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program of the agency’s Space Technology Mission Directorate accomplished its busiest year in 2013 since its inception in late 2010, and 2014 promises to be even busier.

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Near Space Corporation Launches First Flight for NASA Flight Opportunities Program

Near Space Corporation balloon launch. (Credit: NSC)
Near Space Corporation balloon launch. (Credit: NSC)

Tillamook, OR, January 24, 2013 (NSC PR): Near Space Corporation (NSC) launched its first balloon flight with the NASA Flight Opportunities Program on Sunday January 20th. NSC has completed more than 160 balloon flights since it began operating from Tillamook, Oregon in 1996. This was the first balloon launch with the NASA Flight Opportunities Program.

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NASA Selects Experimental Commercial Suborbital Flight Payloads

Xombie_flightWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 13 cutting-edge space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft in 2013 and 2014. The flights will allow participants to demonstrate their technologies to the edge of space and back, before committing them to the harsh and unforgiving conditions of spaceflight.

The vehicles that will carry these payloads will include Las Vegas-based Zero-G Corporation’s parabolic airplane and high altitude balloons from Near Space Corp. in Tillamook, Ore. They also will include reusable launch vehicles from Masten Space Systems in Mojave, Calif.; UP Aerospace in Highlands Ranch, Colo.; and Virgin Galactic in Las Cruces, N.M.

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NASA Selects Two Technologies For Commercial Suborbital Tests

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected two new technologies to fly on commercial reusable suborbital vehicles. The flights will test the payloads’ functionality before full deployment on future missions. One technology will be tested on a suborbital reusable launch vehicle and the other will be tested on a high altitude balloon.

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Commercial Spaceflight Federation Welcomes 3 New Members

Washington, D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce the addition of three new Associate Members: Arizona State University, Near Space Corporation, and Qwaltec.

“The private spaceflight sector continues to expand, and it is evidence with the addition of these three members, each unique in their commitment to the industry,” said Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. “We are excited to welcome these companies into the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and are looking forward to working with each of them to promote the commercial spaceflight sector.”
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NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program Selects 24 Payloads

Made in Space tests a 3D printer in microgravity. (Credit: Made in Space)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program has selected 24 cutting-edge space technology payloads for flights on commercial reusable launch vehicles, balloons and a commercial parabolic aircraft.

Sixteen of the payloads will ride on parabolic aircraft flights, which provide brief periods of weightlessness. Five will fly on suborbital reusable launch vehicle test flights. Two will ride on high-altitude balloons that fly above 65,000 feet. One payload will fly on the suborbital launch vehicle and high-altitude balloon platforms. The flights will take place in 2012 and 2013.
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Near Space Corp. to Build First Commercial High Altitude Balloon Flight Facility

Palo Alto, CA, February 27, 2012 (NSC PR): Near Space Corporation (NSC), one of seven suborbital flight providers selected to support the NASA Flight Opportunities Program, is proud to announce the creation of the first commercial high altitude balloon flight facility. Located in Tillamook, Oregon, the $6.9 million first phase will include 31,000 square feet of construction. It will serve as NSC headquarters and will house engineering, manufacturing, payload integration, and flight operations at a single location. The new facility will enable an unprecedented level of responsiveness and an increased capacity to meet the growing needs of NSC customers.

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NASA Awards Near Space Corporation Funding to Advance Titan Balloon Research

Titan Balloon A Flagship class Titan Explorer mission is conceived with montgolfiere (hot air balloon) to circumnavigate the surface of Titan at jetliner altitudes, but allow occasional descents to the surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NSC PR — TILLAMOOK, OR  — Near Space Corporation (NSC), a leading innovator of terrestrial and planetary exploration balloon technology, has received a Phase Two NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) award to fund work that will help enable future airborne exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan.  NSC’s winning proposal was among 85 selected from a total pool of 428 submissions.

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