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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Updates on Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America

SpaceShipTwo glides over the Mojave Desert after being released from its WhiteKnightTwo mother ship. (Credit; Virgin Galactic)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is being held in Colorado through Wednesday. I wasn’t able to attend this year, but the following folks are there tweeting away:

Jeff Foust‏ @jeff_foust
Rand Simberg‏ @Rand_Simberg
Colorado Space News‏ @CO_Space_News

Below are updates on Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America based on their tweets.

George Whitesides
CEO
Virgin Galactic
The Spaceship Company

  • good progress on glide test flight program in 2017
  • Six glide flights so far; 1 more SpaceShipTwo glide flight scheduled before powered flight tests begin in 2018
  • a lot of work underway to prepare SpaceShipTwo for powered flights
  • Italian space agency ASI has signed letter of intent to purchase research flight with Italian payload specialist scheduled for 2019
  • suborbital payload capacity is 1,000 lbs. (453.6 kg) w/ 500 cubic feet (14.16 cubic meters) of pressurized usable volume
  • integration of biological payloads within two hours of flight
  • access to payloads within 30 minutes of land, possibly as short as 5 to 10 minutes
  • company will complete facilities at Spaceport America in 2018
  • working on $1 billion investment by Saudi Arabia that was announced in October

Dan Hicks
CEO
Spaceport America

  • Commercial space industry is worth $339 billion annually and is growing
  • Users of Spaceport America benefit from large area of restricted airspace (adjacent to White Sands Missile Range)
  • Developing a infrastructure development plan that will include a payload processing facility with a cafeteria
  • Officials will present plan to New Mexico lawmakers in several months
  • UP Aerospace plans a sounding rocket launch from Spaceport America in January
  • UP Aerospace using a new rocket motor test facility at the spaceport
  • Possibility of conducting orbital launches from Spaceport America that do not involve dropping hardware over land

Advanced Registration for NSRC 2017 Ends Nov. 30

From our friends at NSRC….

A reminder that the Advanced Registration deadline is Thu Nov 30 for the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2017)! You can register here: http://www.boulder.swri.edu/NSRC2017/Site4/Registration.html

NSRC-2017 will also offer TWO unique tours available only to NSRC participants! Click the links to sign up for a tour of Ball Aerospace as well as the University of Colorado Hyper-Velocity Dust Impact Lab! (Space is limited so please sign up soon!)

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NSRC Early Bird Registration Closes on Friday

Greetings Friends of the Suborbital Frontier!

A reminder that discounted Early Bird Registration for the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2017) ends this Friday, Nov 10!

Click here to register! http://www.boulder.swri.edu/NSRC2017/Site4/Registration.html

NSRC-2017 will bring together hundreds of researchers, educators, flight providers, spaceport operators, government officials, in Broomfield, Colo., just outside Boulder, Dec. 18–20. The draft program is now posted, and we have an exciting line up in store! http://www.boulder.swri.edu/NSRC2017/Site4/Program.html

SwRI, CSF Announce 2017 Suborbital Space Researchers Conference

SAN ANTONIO, Aug. 23, 2017  (SwRI/CSF PR) — As a new generation of suborbital space vehicles prepares to come online for space research, education, and space tourism over the next two years, the 2017 Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC) will bring together hundreds of researchers, educators, flight providers, spaceport operators, government officials, and others in late December. NSRC-2017 will be held in Broomfield, Colo., just outside Denver, Dec. 18–20, opened by a Dec. 17 reception featuring experienced NASA and commercial astronauts.

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NSRC Conference Early Bird Registration Expires Today

NSRC 2016 logoGreetings friends of the suborbital frontier!

 Good news! The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2016) poster abstract deadline has been extended by just a few days, to Monday, May 2nd at 11:00pm PDT! Click here to submit your poster abstract:  http://www.boulder.swri.edu/NSRC2016/Site3/Abstracts.html

Also, a reminder that the Omni Interlocken Resort conference hotel discounted rate ($142/nt, $109 govt) expires this Sunday, May 1. So reserve your room soon! (Note that full refunds will be given to hotel cancellations made before noon on May 29.)

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NSRC is Back!

NSRC 2016 logoAfter a three-year hiatus, the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference is back.

NSRC-2016 will be held June 2-4, 2016 at the Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Colorado!

More information will be posted soon at http://nsrc.swri.org/

Morning NSRC 2013 Highlights

NSRC2013logoNEWSome morning highlights of the first day of the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013 here in Broomfield, Colo.:

  • Addressing the group via video, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said NASA is not excluding the possibility that the Flight Opportunities program would fund human researchers on suborbital fights. Previously, NASA had said it would purchase flights for payloads but not for researchers to fly.
  • Garver provided no details on precisely what safety standards the space agency would require prior to paying for researchers to fly.
  • NASA has spent $29.5 million on the Flight Opportunities program over the past three years, and it has requested an additional $15 million for FY2014. In 2010, Garver addressed the first NSRC and said NASA would seek $15 million per year over 5 years, but the agency has not received all the funding it requested.
  • The deputy administrator also announced plans for a joint solicitation for science and tech payloads to be issued by NASA’s Science and Space Tech directorates. The solicitation is expected to be pushed in late summer or early fall.
  • XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson said that while satellites have been removed from the U.S. Munitions List in draft regulations, crew spacecraft have been added to it. Calling the decision a major step backward, Nelson urged urged audience members to oppose this move during the on-going public comments period.
  • Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects Will Pomerantz said the company has taken reservations for nearly 600 people worldwide for flights aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles.
  • Pomerantz added that NanoRacks has delivered the first payload racks for flying experiments aboard the space plane.

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Some Random Observations About the NSRC….

Masten's Xombie vehicle

A few observations about the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Orlando last week:

The State of the Industry is Strong

It was impressive to see reps from all five flight providers – Armadillo Aerospace, Blue Origin, Masten Space Systems, Virgin Galactic and XCOR – together on one panel. This rare alignment of cosmic forces really brought home the diverse approaches being taken to suborbital space, and how the field will be dominated by America companies at the start. That’s a good sign for a country hoping to regain its standing in commercial spaceflight.

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Fun in the Sun

I’m back in Silicon Valley after a long, circuitous transcontinental journey across that saw me in Orlando, Charlotte, Houston and San Jose. From that 12-hour odyssey, I can confirm three things: America is as beautiful as ever; I need to cash in airline miles earlier; and never eat Tex-Mex at an airport.

The conference was fun. I had a great time, learned a lot, caught up with a lot of old friends, and i made a few new ones.  And a few amusing things happened…

Best Line of the Conference

First Prize: Jeff Foust, talking about Virgin Galactic’s emphasis on safety (paraphrased):

“George Whitesides has said ‘safety is the North Star of our company’ so many times that they’re going to have to name one of their vehicles Polaris.”

Runnerup: Virgin CEO George Whitesides (paraphrased):

“Building a spaceship is easy, PowerPoint is hard.”

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