Fly Cheap, Fly Often, Fly Safe — Science research & education opportunities on commercial suborbital vehicles


Wednesday, June 15 2011 - 12:00 pm, PDT
Kim Ennico,
NASA Ames Research Center

Access to suborbital space, the realm above 100 km altitude, by vehicles not traveling fast enough to go into orbit about the planet, has a long history, from the 1950's early unmanned scientific sounding rockets for meteorological and upper atmosphere studies, to Alan Shepard's historic Freedom 7 flight 50 years ago, continuing today with multi-science disciplined sounding rocket programs launched from spaceports around the globe. These vehicles follow a parabolic-arc trajectory that also provides many minutes of low gravity enabling "microgravity" experiments. Access to suborbital space is soon to be revolutionized by a series of frequent flights by new providers from the commercial space sector.
Dr. Ennico's talk will highlight these companies, their vehicles and their current timetables. She will showcase some examples of scientific research and education that were presented at the 2011 Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC), held earlier this year in Orlando, Florida. The NSRC is an annual forum, bringing together academia, industry and government to discuss utilization of current and future suborbital vehicles and microgravity venues for research and education. The next meeting will be held in the Bay Area, Feb 27-29, 2012, co-hosted by NASA Ames. NASA Ames, with NASA Dryden, also runs NASA's Flight Opportunities Program, a program designed to develop and provide opportunities for space technology development and foster the development of the commercial reusable suborbital (CRuSR) transportation industry.

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