FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conf. – suborbital Q&A

Will try to finish up today the compilations of my notes from the sessions that I attended. Unfortunately there were some interesting parallel sessions, such as one on commercial pressure suits, that I missed.

I posted here my notes on the presentations in the Suborbital Transport session. See also Michael Belfiore’s audio/notes pencast for this session.

Here are some notes from the Q&A:

Primary technical Challenges? Greason: Achieving controllable flight throughout. Ake: Safe vertical landing and reliable relighting of the engine. Whitesides: Currently focusing a lot of thought on issues regarding how people move in, out, and inside of the cabin. Milburn: Takeoff/landing. Now dealing with going supersonic and high altitudes for the first time. Many things have to go right for safe flight.

First year of passenger flight? Milburn: When the system is ready. Greason: Will fly when it is safe to fly. Whitesides: Same. Ake: Lower barrier for cargo. Will take orders now.

Training? Milburn: Space Adventures is mostly dealing with that. A priority is to prepare passengers so that they get the most out of their flight as possible. Whitesides: Baselining 3 days of training. The NASTAR training sessions have gone very well. Greason: Plans are evolving but currently going for 4 days of training. Lynx passengers will wear a pressure suit so they need to be set up and trained for that.

Space diving? Milburn: Will be doing rocket diving for next two years. Been surprised by the level of serious interest in space diving. Greason: Might be a small market but useful for developing lifesaving emergency systems and procedures.

Weather constraints: Greason: Some wind limits on Lynx. Also must take into account space weather. Ake: Can tolerate quite high cross-winds. Whitesides: Chosen a spaceport with about 330 days per year of clear skies. Milburn: About 20 knots upper limit on wind speeds.

Remote control for Armadillo vehicle? – SOST will hold two passengers and will be remotely piloted.

ITAR issues? Greason: Experience with the FAA regulation development has been good experience for dealing with ITAR. In particular, learned not to surprise regulators. Inform them as far in advance as possible to give them plenty of lead time to deal with it in a non-reflexive way. Whitesides: ITAR reform efforts are underway. Need to see that suborbital spaceflight is included.

Children on flights? Whitesides: Haven’t yet set a fixed lower age. Greason: Informed consent for underage passengers is a problem. Might allow for exceptions such as participants from the “Make a Wish” program. Milburn: Wouldn’t mind sending some of his high school students one-way to space…

URL: http://hobbyspace.com/nucleus/?itemid=27174

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